Interview with Charlotte Rafter, L.Ac.
The Yachats Gazette was pleased to speak with Charlotte Rafter at her business, Summer Rain, featuring acupuncture, herbology, and nutrition. Summer Rain is located in the lower level of the Farm at Dancing Star, on 1266 N. Yachats River Road, in Yachats.
TYG: [Looking around the treatment room]
Charlotte: The bed has an infrared heating pad on it.
TYG-Graphic Design: Infrared. How does that work?
TYG: Infrared is heat, Mom. What we consider heat, is infrared.
TYG-GD: Huh. So much for what I know. [laughter]
Charlotte: I’ll turn it on, Heather. I really like it because it penetrates deeper. [The pad has] quartz and tourmaline crystals which produce negative ions, and you get the heat with it.
TYG: What’s that?
Charlotte: That’s another heat lamp. I’ve used that a lot. If I have needles in people’s feet, this will keep their feet warm.
TYG-GD: [faint eek sound]
TYG-GD: The very idea of needles in people’s feet…
TYG: I’m just interested in the hydraulic system [of the lamp] and the pistons. I have the feeling this is a liquid-state, non-motorized lamp. This is hand-moved, right? So I’m thinking you have a constant liquid flow—well, not flow, but a single batch of liquid that’s at a varying pressure depending on what position you’re in.
Charlotte: [laughter] Ok, so just to show you [gestures towards a machine on a movable cart]: this is called an Acutron, and I use it to treat people like your mother who don’t like needles in their feet! It’s micro-stim[ulation], and you use Q-tips in here [she’s holding two tube-shaped emitters], and you wet these, and that makes your contact. The other thing this does—let me turn it on so I can show you—see the light? So you’re also treating with fiber optic light. You can put different color [gels] in, and find out what color works best.
TYG-GD: What kind of response do you look for?
Charlotte: The same kind of response as I do with acupuncture, which is to say, pain reduction. Mostly I use this for pain. People are willing to come and get treated if they have pain.
TYG: What does this dial do?
Charlotte: Here, can I [use the machine on] you?
Charlotte: [turns some of the dials while the emitter is touching his hand]
TYG: That actually feels good!
Charlotte: Well, it’s not turned on yet. [She turns the machine on and it starts beeping] Do you feel that? It might feel kind of tingly.
TYG: Yes, I’m feeling it. Woah! [Looking at the dial read-out] I got almost 100 percent!
Charlotte: Yes! But see, it’s not a strong electrical impulse—it’s micro, not macro.
TYG: But what is this [readout] showing?
Charlotte: Allen, you’re way smarter than me.
TYG: Not really.
Charlotte: Well, probably about electricity you are. [laughter] So, let me show you an acupuncture needle—this is actually a pretty heavy-duty one.
TYG: This looks like a fairly large bore.
Charlotte: Well, but, feel it.
Charlotte: See, it’s more like a wire. It’s very sharp.
TYG: When you feel it on your finger, it’s like nothing.
Charlotte: Let me show you this one—it’s even smaller.
TYG: This is a different bore?
Charlotte: Different gauge. That’s a little stiffer, but smaller.
TYG: So, where did you get the idea for this business?
Charlotte: I’d been a nurse for a really long time, and when I was about 55, I went back to school and got a Master’s in Oriental Medicine, because I didn’t want to do nursing anymore. I wanted to do something that I could do the rest of my life.
TYG: I see. Nursing often involves a lot of physical stuff.
Charlotte: Yes—and working in a hospital, and that kind of stuff. This, I can take wherever I go. That was part of it. I’ve always been interested in Chinese medicine.
TYG: Wild! Why?
Charlotte: Well, I lived in Indonesia when I was in my late 20’s. A friend of mine was married to a Chinese-Indonesian person, and his father had a nasty stroke. He was drooling a lot, and choking when he tried to swallow. This old Chinese guy came and did acupuncture on him, and his drooling stopped, and he could swallow. Later he had another stroke and he died, but I was really impressed. [The acupuncturist] stuck two needles right in the floor of his mouth, and it stopped it. So, that’s the reason for the business.
TYG: When did you start [your business]?
Charlotte: Oh, in 2001. I was in the second class to graduate from Boulder, Southwest Acupuncture College. And that school is the sister school to the one in Santa Fe that’s been around for 35 years now. So, I like it! The other reason I wanted to do it was because at least half of what I do is herbal medicine, and I’ve always been really interested in that.
TYG: I am too! I’m in favor of antibiotics if you need them, but natural properties are really interesting.
Charlotte: My grandmother was an herbalist.
TYG-GD: Where was your grandmother from that she used herbal medicine?
Charlotte: West Virginia.
TYG-GD: So she had old English and Appalachian knowledge…
Charlotte: Yep. I wish I had listened more.
TYG: I think the bed’s warm—you want to feel it?
Charlotte: It feels really good on a cold, windy day. One of the things I want to do this year, if I can get it together, is to do a medicinal, herbal garden with western herbs, and teach a class on how to grow them and how to make tinctures and stuff. That would be great.
TYG-GD: That would be fun! I’ve always been interested in “survival herbalism” of a sort.
Charlotte: That’s where it all starts!
TYG-GD: Did you do any more traveling to complete your degree?
Charlotte: I finished my Master’s in Boulder, but I did two internships in China, and one in Japan.
TYG: Those are the real centers of acupuncture.
TYG-GD: Can you tell us a little bit more about them?
Charlotte: Well, the first one was in 1999, and I went to Beijing, China for a month for an acupuncture internship, and we worked in the hospitals and treated patients for a month. That was primarily their medicine. It was interesting, because when I was there in ’99, most of the transportation was buses and bicycles. The old hutongs were still there, the square blocks around the Forbidden City that are old, old neighborhoods where people still lived. It was so interesting to walk around that city, especially early in the morning—it was really hot during the day, in August, and the cicadas were screaming, and it was a real, mystical experience! But we’d go walking around there early in the morning, and people had taken their bed and put it out on the sidewalk because it was cooler. It’s a very different city now than it was then. I went back in 2001, and it’s completely changed. They’d leveled square miles of hutongs, and were putting up these high-rise apartment buildings, and getting ready for the Olympics. All the cab drivers were listening to English tapes… it was just kind of sad. They just threw it all away—so much history.
TYG-GD: What happened to all those people?
Charlotte: They were given money for where they were living, and they were supposedly going to be in these high-rises. But then, it turned out that there wasn’t enough money for them to be in the high-rise, so it threw them back into the countryside.
TYG: They might have better living in the countryside…
Charlotte: Well now, for sure! It was smoggy when we were there, but I can’t imagine being there now. […] You can’t see anything. And people are dying of lung disease really early, and needing lung transplants really early—I don’t know how well lung transplants do.
TYG-GD: So your second tour was in Beijing as well?
Charlotte: Yes, and it was herbal. I worked at three different hospitals doing an herbal internship. When I did the acupuncture internship, I spent a week at the military hospital, and that was all qi gong (chikong): the only thing they use to treat is their thumb. They’re amazing. They’re so focused when they’re healing, and their thumbs are like logs. [laughter] They’re really strong. I had fallen, and kind of whiplashed my neck, and my shoulder was really sore. The older gentleman—somebody had told him that my shoulder was sore. I couldn’t say no, so I sat down in his chair, and he held my shoulder and used his thumb. Every piece of my body was moving except [my shoulder]—I’d never had anything hurt that much! But when he was done, [the pain] was gone. [laughter] It was really fun to watch and see what they could do with nothing but their thumb!
TYG-GD: That’s wild! And then you went to Japan?
Charlotte: Then I went to Japan, in Tokyo and Kyoto. You know, the medicine went to Japan, and then the borders closed. So it developed differently than it did in China. To me, the difference is that Japanese acupuncture is a lot more subtle, more gentle. Some of those acupuncturists work with a needle like this—this is a gold-plated one, and there’s a silver one. So you would hold it like this, [with the tip exerting] pressure against the skin, with a lot of intention. Those masters are really fascinating.
TYG-GD: Now you said when you were in China that you were working in hospitals. Are these hospitals devoted to acupuncture?
Charlotte: They’re all acupuncture. The medicine was becoming integrated then, but there were western hospitals, and Chinese hospitals, and I was working in the Chinese hospitals. But the Western hospitals were still working with acupuncture for anesthesia because it works—you can keep people awake. There’s a film about them cracking a skull, with no pain, with you awake. It works really well for dental stuff too. Some of the students talked their dentist into letting them use it, and it worked really well for root canals—just two points and some e-stim. And they were using [acupuncture] a lot for Cesarean sections when we were working there—that’s nice, because the baby is not getting anything. But the second time we went back, we found that a lot of the population would rather be asleep to have surgery, so they were using more western-style [medicine].
TYG: So, anywhere else in the shop you’d like us to see?
Charlotte: Sure! So this was the treatment room, and this is the pharmacy.
TYG: Smells okay.
Charlotte: Some Chinese pharmacies have a very distinctive smell, but all of my herbs are in glass, so you don’t smell it very much.
TYG-GD: What are some of your favorite ingredients here?
Charlotte: This one. It almost smells smoky, doesn’t it—but it’s just dried. It’s angelica [sinensis]. There’s an angelica [Angelica hendersonii] that blooms along the Oregon coast; it has a big leaf, and it has a tall stalk and an umbel flower that is white.
TYG-GD: So is that root, or stem, or…?
Charlotte: It’s the root.
TYG-GD: And what does that do for you?
Charlotte: It tonifies your blood. “Tonify” is a big word in Chinese medicine. It means to make your blood stronger.
TYG: An immune enhancer?
Charlotte: Not necessarily. You have to look at whether the person is “hot” or “cold”, do they have excess or deficiency…
TYG: I was thinking that if it’s not a neural stimulator, maybe it’s a marrow stimulator.
Charlotte: I don’t know if it is. They’ve done tons and tons of research on Chinese herbs, but the way I practice this medicine is like a Chinese person, because they look at the body differently—which was hard for me in the beginning! You could have somebody with the diagnosis of a gastric ulcer. The western treatment would be one specific treatment for ulcer. But the Chinese look at the person, and treat it according to what’s going on with [that individual].
TYG: Which I think is better. I think if you could combine that Chinese technique and Chinese herbs with western medicine, then you’d have about as good as you could get. By the way… what is that? It looks kind of like worms.
TYG-GD: What color is it?
Charlotte: That’s Japanese catnip! It’s just the seed head.
TYG: I’m not too keen on smelling that.
Charlotte: [laughter] This is really good for people who are getting just the beginning of a cold. It’s still on the surface, and you can feel it in somebody’s pulse because their pulse will be on the surface.
TYG-GD: What is something really unusual that you have?
Charlotte: Gecko. It’s used for treating lung disease, but you wouldn’t use that unless someone were really, really sick. I have that for emergencies.
TYG: Ok, good. So that’s not something regular you use.
Charlotte: Oh no! […] I wonder if I could show you something we use to treat children, and my traveling kit. When we were students, I had to take this everywhere. It’s got all my needles, and everything—look, this is a cool little instrument [She shows us something that looks like a miniature grappling hook]
TYG: I use that thing in my garden!
Charlotte: [laughter all around] And this is the system we use to treat little children—this medicine works really well with children, and older people. See you have this point, with a spring in the handle; and this looks like a little rake. And this is like a little broom with wires.
TYG: That looks more palatable! [laughter]
TYG-GD: I can see how this would work really well for kids with sensory processing disorder.
Charlotte: Yes! You know that babies and children aren’t completely developed. So you can treat their back, and their head, and brush their arms—it really helps calm down those kids that are hyper. This right here… it’s called “Tiger’s Mouth.” Try it! See, it’s neat to see all these things that aren’t needles. We would use these to press on meridians, and this other one on a child’s back—you brush until it’s pink, and then you know it’s been stimulated. And I love how the Japanese present things—this came in a beautiful little box all wrapped with really cool paper.
TYG: Wow—this is getting to be a long interview! Was there anything else you wanted to add?
Charlotte: I’m boarded in acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine; and something called Tui Na and Shiatsu, which are forms of massage; and nutrition.
TYG: Thank you so much for your time!
Interview with Su Carey of Dark Water
Dark Water has just passed its first birthday of being in business, and is located at 114 N. Hwy 101, next to the Drift Inn. Su Carey is the merchandising and display person for Dark Water.
TYG: Are you the owner?
Su: I’m no longer the owner. […] Our family owns [the shop], but Noah Goughenour runs it.
TYG: What is your primary product field?
Su: We sell souvenirs and gifts, mainly Yachats-based. […]
TYG: When did you open?
Su: On March the fourth, last year, on Fat Tuesday.
TYG: “Fat Tuesday”? Really? Was that intentional?
Su: [laughs] Uh huh. We participated in the Mardi Gras event, and then we opened that Fat Tuesday.
TYG: Who are your main suppliers, besides yourself?
Su: I don’t think we have any main suppliers. I buy lots of things from Etsy, I buy lots of things from local people, I buy supplies and have local artists come in and make things from those supplies.
TYG-Graphic Design: Oh, like what? How does that work?
Su: I buy jewelry and supplies, and they come in and make things. I buy vintage parts that they put together to make things, like vintage keys and such.
TYG: While I’m thinking about it, can we have a store tour?
Su: Well, here’s our Yachats wall, the Yachats section; then we have a vintage section. Here are our Yachats magnets and wine glasses; these are things we construct—somebody makes our maps and shirts, and then we put them in mats. We have some ceramics by John King—the guy at the market—he made those just for us. […] We also have some postcards, and a mermaid section.
TYG-GD: Any special story behind the mermaids?
Su: No—we like mermaids, and it seems like everybody in town likes mermaids.
TYG-GD: [reading some lettering] What’s an “ex-mermaid”?
Su: Everybody in Yachats is an ex-mermaid! [laughter]
TYG: “Ex-mermaid”? What does that even mean?
Su: It means people who were mermaids, and now they live on the land! Ex-mermaids—and then they came to Yachats to live. [laughter] We have a kitchen area, and a clothing area. We have some art supplies for people on vacation. We have a toy area, and a pirate area.
TYG: A pirate area makes sense!
Su: Just like mermaids are popular on the coast, we make little packages for children with a telescope and compass, a map, and [other goodies].
TYG: That’s one of the most realistic telescopes I’ve ever seen!
Su: Thanks! We have accessories, soap, lip balm, that kind of thing. And these are journals and stationery; we have vases. And we have little bags for camping: socks, rain ponchos…
TYG-GD: Wow, awesome! And are these new clothes?
Su: Yes, all new. And we design all our T-shirts. [A customer walks in, so we take a brief break.] And here is a mermaid lady—hand-painted and made. Everything’s new, and a lot of things we design ourselves. We have them made, or somebody comes in and makes them!
TYG: How did you open Dark Water? What gave you the idea?
Su: I couldn’t stand the empty building! [laughter]
TYG: As I couldn’t stand the empty spot in Yachats for a town newspaper!
Su: Exactly the same feeling!
TYG-GD: So, how’s business been? You’ve been open a year now.
Su: Very good! I think we’ll be around here for a long time.
TYG: Oh, and here are some stamps and ink pads, professional ones!
Su: Are you a stamper? We have these for vacationers…
Su: We’re always on the hunt for new artists to bring their things in, or to help us create our designs.
TYG: Well, thank you so much for you time!
Su: Thank you Allen!