Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Yachats Gazette, Issue 57, June 1, 2016

 Click here for a printable .pdf version of Issue 57.

Interview with Todd Korgan and
Jamie Michel of Sweet Homes Rentals

The Yachats Gazette was interested to speak with Todd, co-owner, and Jamie, manager, in their new building located at Highway 101 and 7th Street.

TYG: I really like what you did [with the building]—especially with this doorway.
Jamie: Oh, you like the archway in this office—isn’t that neat?

TYG: Yes, it’s just that extra little bit of touch! And the same with the not-all-the-same-colors of the wood. It’s clear that it’s hand-painted.
Todd: Yes, our property manager, Kasey Baker, she’s a licensed architect. She does a lot of the design work on our home—she did most of all of this.
Jamie: When we moved into this old building, Kasey designed it so it would look like a home office instead of an industrial office. We wanted our clients, when they came in, to get a feel for what they would expect when they walk into one of our rental houses.

TYG: Where were you before this?
We were in where the laundromat is, the SudSea Laundromat.

TYG: Oh, right! I didn’t realize it.
We still have the laundromat until June 1st.

TYG-Graphic Design: Is it open?
No, it’s not. That’s where we do all our laundry though, for all our houses. And I’m not sure what Sharon’s going to do—I’m not sure if she’s going to keep it open [Sharon is the landlady for the old building]. We’re putting in laundry facilities here.

TYG-GD: For your rentals.
Right. We launder all of our sheets and towels for our rental houses here.

TYG: Jamie, can we get your last name, for the record?

TYG: That’s amusing. [laughs] That is seriously funny. [Looks at Todd.] You being Michelle’s brother and all... [laughter all around]
So you know my sister?
TYG: Oh yes. We’re good friends.

TYG-GD: So where do you live, Todd?
Well, I grew up here in Oregon. I grew up in Portland and lived there most of my life, until eight years ago. I found the love of my life, got married, and moved to—of all places—Las Vegas, Nevada. [laughs] Growing up in Portland, I never thought I’d move there, but my wife is the Dean of the graduate college there at UNLV; she manages 126 graduate programs. And prior to doing Sweet Homes, I’ve been a commercial film maker for 25 years. I work everywhere—I direct in New York, Chicago, LA... I was mobile and had always worked out of my home office. So it was easier for me to move to Vegas than for her to quit her big job at the university.

TYG: [...] How did you guys get started?
Well, it’s kind of a funny story. I told you that I got married about eight years ago. I was living in Portland, and directing commercials and short films, and I’ve been doing that for 20+ years. I was doing very well, and had saved some money to buy some investment property, and my parents live here. I think they moved here in 2000 to retire...

TYG-GD: A real retirement! They moved here and opened up Heceta Bed and Breakfast... [laugh]
Right! [laugh] Turned out to be a lot of work and a full-time job and all of that. So that’s kind of how our family moved to the area. My sister [Michelle Korgan] moved here to help them run it, and she actually ended up buying it from them, and then she opened up Ona. So, let’s see... We [Kate and Todd] got engaged 6/7/08 [laugh]—so about a year and a half before that is when I met her. She was living in Las Vegas, and I was living in Portland, and we were both doing the online dating thing. And she and I had conversations nightly on the phone for about a month. And we really got along and hit it off, and she decided to come see me. So I planned this whole thing—if things don’t go well, we can hang out for the weekend in Portland; but if they do go well, I’m going to take her to the coast, introduce her to my parents. They had a little vacation rental that we were staying at.

As things went, we ended up coming here and falling in love and all of that! So we had a great weekend, and on the way back, I got a call from my realtor—because I was looking for some investment property down here—and she said, “You’ve got to come and look at this piece of property. It’s in San Marine, the eight-mile stretch between Yachats and Waldport. A house hasn’t sold here in like eight years! The house is undervalued and the owners just want to get rid of it.” So, we were in Newport, eating at Local Ocean, and I told her, “No, I can’t, I’m on a date right now.” [laugh] When I got off the phone, Kate said, “Well, you know, my plane isn’t for another three or four hours—let’s go look at it!” So we went back, we looked at the house, and we loved it! So I drove back to Portland and called my realtor and made an offer. By the time [Kate] landed in Vegas, they’d accepted my offer! [laughter all around] [...] So anyway, we bought this beach house, came to the coast and fixed it up, and put it on the rental market. We were renting it through the company that was renting it when I bought it, and based on the estimates of the income it was making when I bought it, we factored that in as far as making payments. So we had it with them for about six to eight months, and it just wasn’t doing well at all. So I started doing my own advertising, and doing my own booking, and then funneling all these bookings to the rental company. 

TYG-GD: And this was before Airbnb, right?
Exactly! So Kate and I just decided that [since] we were already doing all this work, we might as well just take it over. So we took it over, and within the first year that we were renting it ourselves, we increased the bookings by three hundred per cent. [laughter]

TYG: So basically they were just sticking with the main stuff, and not doing anything for it.
The company was hardly doing any advertising. And I’m kind of a computer geek and I built my own website, I was doing online advertising, pay-per-click advertising, and all that. Little did I know I was learning the expertise of vacation rental management marketing! 101! [laughter]
Jamie: So what happened after that?
Todd: Well, my parents saw how well I was doing with this one house, and they said, “Well, we’ve got a vacation rental, can you rent our house?” And we said, “Yeah, sure!” [laughter] And the night they asked us to do that, that’s when I asked Kate to marry me! So we started Sweet Homes Rentals and got engaged on 6/7/8 — June seventh, 2008. [laughter] So that’s how things got started. And then some friends of my parents saw how well we were doing with their home, and our home, and they said, “Well, hey, we’re not too happy with our rental company, why don’t you take ours over!” It just started getting bigger, and bigger, and bigger!

TYG: Wow, it just acccumulated.
Yes! We had several incarnations of web sites, and learned a lot. Actually, the person that now manages our homes is my wife’s best friend. She was living in Las Vegas at the time. Her name is Kasey Baker and she’s a licensed architect and a designer. She saw this opportunity. At that time—it’s funny, the thing that I left out was that we bought this house in ‘07, and the real estate market collapsed in ‘08. And that might have had something to do with why it wasn’t renting as well, but we looked at that as a challenge and took it over ourselves and increased the bookings, and we basically saved our beach house from foreclosure. And we’ve done that for several owners—they had them up for sale, and we said, “Let us take them over and see what we can do.” And now we’re making them a profit instead of having to lose their house.

TYG-GD: So, I don’t understand. Are there two managers?
Kasey is the property manager.
Jamie: I’m the manager at Guest Services and New Owner Relationships. So on a day-to-day basis, I handle more of the business relations, customer relations.

TYG-GD: Renters and owners?
Yes. And then we have a reservations department. We currently have a total of three reservationists working here, including myself. That’s Jeff, over there, and Amber just headed out into the field. Kasey takes care of everything physically on the property; so also owner relations, design, maintenance, guest relations while they’re in the property. I think this is an interesting part of our story too. Just by fluke, the team that Todd and Kate put together... Todd shared with you that he has the background in marketing and photography and film-making, computers, and all of that. Kasey is a licensed architect, so she does design and architectural design...

TYG-GD: But... these houses are already built, right?
They are! This is the background of the team that’s come together to do management, just by fluke. This is the talent pool that’s all come together.
Todd: And who’s better to take care of a house than a person who knows how to build the house from the ground up?
Jamie: What it looks like behind the walls! [laughter]

TYG: Also, probably, when serious maintenance is needed, like when you get a new house and a room is falling apart, then I imagine she comes in very handy.
Oh, absolutely. In fact, she has put together blueprints; and for additions and things like that—larger projects. And something that she does on a regular basis that’s part of our services is design work. So we’ll bring on a house, and then she’ll go in, get a budget from the owners, and do a complete re-model or re-design.
Jamie: And that’s a service we offer our clients just as part of our business.

TYG: Do you do that for non-owner clients?
Well, we haven’t been approached, but certainly we wouldn’t turn that business away.
Jamie: And then the third part of the pool [of talent] we’ve brought together is that my background is 25 years of working with real estate investments; real estate sales, lending, title insurance, escrow, and I’ve also worked for architects and builders. So when we found ourselves all together, we just found that we had this incredible knowledge base to really take care of our clientele at a pretty high level of service.

TYG-GD: And you just happened to be in Yachats? [laughter] So, this all sounds like a very professional outfit! Where do you see yourselves being in five years or so?
Actually, we’re having some growing pains—it’s a love/hate thing. Growing: we’ve had a tremendous amount of it in the last three years, and it’s allowed us to bring on people like Jamie, and have an office like this. But it’s kind of—again—a love/hate, because we never want to get so big that we can’t give excellent service. In fact, we all went to lunch yesterday and had this discussion: how big do we want to get? I think the answer that we came up with is that we’re not afraid to grow bigger, but we never want to grow big enough that we cannot give the service that we give as a boutique rental company. 

TYG-GD: What does “boutique” mean for you here?
Well, that’s interesting. On the Oregon coast there are a couple of companies that have 200, 250 homes; there’s one, our biggest competitor, I think they have 4,000 houses. They have houses everywhere domestically. We never want to get that big. [laughs] That would be a nightmare! 

TYG: I presume you try to keep houses full. There’s one thing I really don’t like that I’ve seen, recently: houses that are up for rent that are empty, and just sit empty for people who come two weeks out of the year.
Well, not only do we want to keep them full, we take pride. I think I keep a very close tab on most of our competitors, and how much they book their homes. We have one of the highest occupancy rates of any other company on the Oregon coast. So that’s very, very important. But at the same time, if you have all these people that are coming into their homes, they’re breaking things, they’re not being respectful, and things aren’t getting fixed... of course the house is going to have wear and tear. And that’s our job: to fix things, to keep things well-maintained, up to date, things like that. So if there ever comes a time when we’re booking the houses really well, but we’re not functioning on a really high level on every responsibility that we have, then it’s time to think about slowing down. One of the things that I think we have done really well: I know we have a higher ratio of employment costs to how much we bring in, but that’s because we want to give really good service. 

TYG-GD: Well, you have very qualified personnel.
Exactly. So, we would continue that philosophy as we grow.
Jamie: We like to share with our homeowners that are considering coming on board, joining our family, that we take the stewardship of their largest investment really seriously. And so, “boutique” to me means that at no time, in our relationship with our clients, do Todd or Kasey or I—so, the leadership team—ever not know exactly what’s going on with every guest, every house, and every owner, whether they’re looking for us, or needing something, communications, where we are with our maintenance, how the houses are being cared for, are things being addressed; and then what our guests are needing, where they are, and what we can do for them. So to me, “boutique” is never losing control of that, and that is how I feel you really take care of your clients on every level.
Todd: And if you do have 4,000 homes, I’m not sure that’s even possible to do.  [...] We’re not afraid of growth—our plan is to expand north. Florence is a little too far now, I think; Newport is more of a natural progression. So we have some new homes in Seal Rock that just signed on board, and in fact, we just met with a homeowner yesterday that just bought a house in north Newport, and we just went and looked at it. They’re doing an amazing remodel and restoration, and it looks like we’re going to bring that house on in October.
Jamie: So when the time comes, we’ll open a satellite office in the north county.

TYG-GD: So, do these houses get recycled in terms of somebody purchases a house, and retires, and moves in?
Yes, yes! So a lot of times we’ll meet a homeowner, maybe somebody who has freshly purchased a house, and we discuss what’s their goal, “How can we help you plan?” “Well, we want to rent it as a vacation rental, we have about ten years until retirement, and then we’re going to make it ours.” So we work with them as they work towards their investment goals.
Todd: This isn’t anything new—Yachats has been a tourist and second home destination for many, many, many years. So many of the houses that do get sold while we’re managing them continue to be vacation rentals. People buy from another owner that we’re currently representing with the idea that it’s going to be a second home or investment property.
Jamie: So it’s a nice compliment when a purchaser chooses to continue on with us. [...]

TYG: So [Jamie] how did you come to be involved with Sweet Homes?
Well, I owned a business in Waldport called Jamie’s Dockside Diner. So when I closed my business, I was in Waldport and Yachats looking for work, and I was very lucky to come across an ad that Todd was looking for help. And very lucky and very honored to become part of this team. I think it’s been a pretty natural fit, and we’re going big places. For me, it’s been an incredible opportunity to stretch and use my business acumen. I feel very, very lucky to have made that connection. 
Todd: And we are incredibly lucky to have you on our team. 

TYG-GD: So how is this new building working out for you guys?
We love it! We get a lot of walk-in traffic; we’re really excited for Farmer’s Market to start so that there are even more people out walking and taking strolls. We meet new home-owner clients, visitors to Yachats who are maybe staying in a hotel but considering renting a house for their next trip. So we love it! It’s given us a lot of space to stretch out and grow.
Todd: We had a little teeny shoe box that we were in before!

TYG-GD: Also a lot of stairs!
We were downstairs—all downstairs. Upstairs was a residence.

TYG-GD: Ohhh! I didn’t know that. I knew it was an apartment, but I thought you were upstairs in the apartment.
Todd: That’s what kind of started us on a quest to look for another space, actually. The apartment upstairs became available, and we all started talking about what would that look like, exactly. It was really broken up and just wasn’t ideal, and that was the conversation we had: “We’re going to have to be going up and down those stairs with big boxes all the time...
Jamie: ...and it’s a lots of big bags and satchels! Can you imagine a heavy bag of laundry?
Todd: That space was divided into three ares: we had the laundromat, and the middle space was a cleaning company. In fact, Kasey, our property manager, Kate and I are partners with her in the cleaning company, called Fresh Digs Cleaning. We contract with them to clean all of our homes. So that was in the middle space, and in the back is where we had storage and Sweet Homes! [laughs] And really, about half of this room is where we had the area for our reception.
Jamie: We’ve come a long way from a 24 packs of toilet paper and a laptop as a desk! [laughter all around] [...]
Some of the things that set us apart: We’re one of the only companies that I know of on the entire Oregon Coast—you would see Kasey in here, but she’s out right now greeting guests. Every new guest that checks in, we greet them at the home, and we give them a mini walk-through—for their benefit, and the owners’ benefit. It’s kind of like when you check out a rental car, and you have to walk around and make sure there are no scratches. We make them sign a waiver that says the house is in really good condition; it’s clean. We go through a really big checklist. We’re the only company I know of that does that service.
Jamie: So it helps us to protect our homeowners and make sure that we know exactly who’s renting their home, and it helps our guests, because we’re available the entire time that they’re here: we’re open seven days a week, and the property manager is on call 24/7. So when you check in to our house, you meet with the property manager, and they make sure you’ve been able to get the wi-fi code and get online.
Todd: You know how to turn on the TV.
Jamie: Yes, that you know how to work the cable, that you understand the buttons on the hot tub, is there anything else you need...

TYG-GD: That you understand where the neighbors’ yard begins...
Exactly. Where you can access the beach and where you can not. And that helps us to be good neighbors and stewards in the community, because we care about our neighbors and making sure our guests are good neighbors while they’re here.
Todd: We supply the homeowners with linens and towels, and I only know one other company that does that on the Oregon Coast. It’s kind of a big deal when you’re a homeowner—believe it or not, you have to continuously buy towels and sheets. When the general public is using them over and over again, they take a lot of wear and tear. So we buy from the mill—boutique, hotel-quality linens and towels—and we offer that as something that we stock the homes with. Up until June 1st, we washed them all at the laundromat. That saves the homeowner utility bills as well. After June 1st, we’ll be washing them here in house.

[We go on a small tour of the building and see where the laundry room will be. We also find out that they stock the houses centrally with items such as toilet paper, paper towels, salt, pepper, ziploc bags, etc.]

Jamie: Well, we’re delighted you’re taking an interest in us—that’s a big compliment.

TYG: I’m glad we got to meet you—thank you so much!

Interview with Marc Taylor
of Nature’s Bling

Nature’s Bling is located on the north side of Yachats, at the intersection of Highway 101 and Forest Hill Street.

TYG: So how did you get into the rock-hunting business?
Well, rock-hunting is the hobby part of it, which is really fun. The rock, fossil, and mineral business, we lucked into. We bought a company called Aurora West, which was one of the larger mineral/rock importers in the country after the owner had passed away. In doing so, we weren’t as familiar with the full business as we should be. We were able to use our skills from being in sales before to do retail of whatever that retail may be. In this particular instance, it was rocks. I fell in love first, and after a short period of time with my wife being involved with it also, she fell in love as well. She fell in love, then our boys were in love with it too. Now we have a full lapidary shop out back. We do a lot of our own cutting, we cut for people, we polish here. We go shopping together—we travel all over the country to get the best specimens, and we’re having a fantastic time doing it. We’ve signed mine owner contracts with people in Brazil, Uruguay, and Morocco; and then we have others in Nevada, Arkansas, and Colorado. So we’re able to get some really neat material into the store that you wouldn’t be able to see at a lot of other places.

TYG: Yes, because I noticed that there is some of this stuff that I have no idea what it is, like you have so much more than just the classic minerals.
And even the classic minerals that we have, I like to get something that’s a little bit better, or a little bit more spectacular. As opposed to having a piece of amethyst that’s just nice, an amethyst that’s nice and has a calcite inclusion or a rare formation—that’s what turns me on. And that’s what our customers are going to notice. And they travel from a lot of places to come and see us, because the quality of the material that we bring in is really pretty good.

TYG: I probably see the most different license plates here, different in the sense that they come from the most different states!
We have people that come from all over the country to come here, but more than that, by default, because there are so many people that travel during the summer. If they’re from another state and they’re a rock-hounder, they’re going to go a rock shop on the opposite coast from where they are to see the different variances in minerals. And you also have to understand that Oregon is very well-known for having the best picture jasper in the world. We stock that stuff regularly, whether it be Biggs, or Deschutes, or Cripple Creek or whatever the case may be, our picture jaspers are, bar none, some of the best in the world. The other thing that we’ve done that has spread word about what we do is that we have a lot, of a lot of different things. Also, we’ll buy it in bulk even if it’s rare, so that people can get really good, neat, different stuff without having to pay ridiculous prices.

TYG-Editorial Assistant: How does your reputation spread in a business like this?
90% word of mouth, 10% internet. We don’t do conventional advertising—we use social media to a certain extent: we do a little bit on E-Bay and Etsy, but primarily Facebook. And then, once I’ve shaken somebody’s hand who’s come into the store, or my wife has made them a little piece of jewelry or whatever the case may be, they remember. And they want to come back. And when you want to come back, you tell your friends, “Hey, I found this cool little spot.” And the rock-hounding community is unlike anything I have ever seen, and I’ve been a collector of many things. The clubs, the activities they do with each other, and for each other... And if you have a guy that comes into the grocery store that you see there, and you know he collects rocks because you saw him one time doing it, and you’re a rock-hounder... “Oh, I just went to the beach and check this out! We found this in Yachats at this new store called “Nature’s Bling!” And those people come. And once they come, they tell their friends. And that has been extraordinarily effective for us. The other thing is that we put this great big piece outside of the store, and somebody drops anchor on the highway and they pull in... [laugh]

TYG: That is very smart, to have a big piece there.
Well, it’s a difficult process, because it weighs 500, 600 pounds, and I won’t leave it ouside—every day, you have to get it out the door without breaking it. 

TYG-EA: So what does picture jasper look like?
So, there are a lot of different picture jaspers out there. My personal favorite is Biggs, because it’s got just some tremendous patterning. There are blues, browns...

Nature's Bling Picture Jasper

 TYG: I can see why it’s called picture jasper—it looks like sort of a mid-western picture.
This picture jasper is Biggs also, but it’s from a different area, and it’s dendritic. So you have both the fantastic color changes, healed fractures and such, and then you’ve got the dendrites in there too. So it makes it pretty neat. And everybody likes something a little different, and that’s why the picture jaspers from Oregon are so cool, because there’s such a variation [even] from cutting one piece. You can literally take a slice from this side which is all dark, or even milky, that you can’t really see a picture in, and on the opposite side of that exact same slab, there will be the most spectacular picture you’ve ever seen. If you use your imagination, there’s a fisherman, or there’s a sunset, or there’s a mountain range... or all of the above. And people love finding pictures in rocks. We see a lot of penguins and dolphins and fish and that kind of stuff. And it’s fantastic! My very favorite picture rock is a thunder egg that a buddy of mine gave me. And this thunder egg looks like it’s got a fantastic ocean scene, with a sky, but then there’s a little fisherman dude down there on the bottom.

TYG: Aw, that’s so cool!
And it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to make that work. That’s why that’s one of my favorite gifts that I’ve been given. We’ve had a lot of fun with this kind of stuff. So I chase pictures in rocks. I will cut rocks from 9 different sides trying to get the picture.

TYG: So how’s the business been going?
We’re very pleased. We’ve had great community support. Everybody in town tells people we’re here, and we hope that we’re doing our part by giving back to the community. It’s really been fun. [...]

TYG: These selenite towers are my favorite.
Yes, selenite products are our number one seller in the store! Raw selenite, polished selenite, or these selenite lamps... but we sell at pretty close to wholesale prices to the retail public. [...] A lot of people call it “Superman Stone.” [laugh] These are hand-carved—they do them very quickly; they run a blade down the middle and pop some pieces out. I’ll show you what they look like naturally: selenite logs, as mined. That’s how they come out of the ground. They’re formed in veins, or sheets, and then they break those apart so they’re of manageable size.

Selenite Logs from Nature's Bling, Yachats, OR
Selenite Logs from Nature's Bling

TYG: They’re still beautiful!
Actually, they’re really neat! [...] We bring it in by the pallet-load, by the ton, it’s so popular. We’ve even made benches out of selenite for people, and that’s pretty cool stuff.

TYG: [...] So, what is the fossil dig site?
The fossil dig site... because we have five children, and our kids all love to dig and play with dinos and all that, we put together a room where all the walls are inlaid with fish—and they’re fossil fish. You get to come in and dig a 6x6 piece of matrix that’s loaded with shark teeth and crinoids and brachiopods and echinoderms and stuff from all over the world. Everything they find in the piece of matrix they get to keep themselves. It only costs $5.00 to do, and when you get to keep stuff and it’s only $5.00 at the coast, that’s pretty cheap entertainment. It costs us about $3.00 to put one of them together, so for every one we sell, we donate $2.00 to the local youth program. So it’s kind of our way of saying thank you to our community, that does so much for us.

TYG: I used to go to YYFAP [Yachats Youth and Family Activity Programs], so I know how much they need it!
My older son goes on occasion, and my younger son is planning on going. I think it’s a great program, and it’s a neat way to be able to help. 

TYG-EA: Didn’t you grow up around here?
I grew up in Waldport and Yachats. My parents moved to Yachats when I was 18 months old, and moved into this building. So when I was really little until about nine years old, I lived upstairs and my parents had their antique shop down here. So, several owners later, I was able to get the building back into the family, and now we do what we do here, and we live upstairs with our little kids! It’s really fantastic.

TYG: It’s nice to have a store here, something to attract.
This building is really interesting; it’s a bit of a geode. It really looks like heck on the outside, and it’s all sparkly on the inside. So people are somewhat deceived by the external appearance. But, it’s in a good spot. We’re not in the city, but we’re not out in the boonies, so... It really works well for us. And, we hope it works well for other people. The biggest issue we have is that people have to make an effort to stop here, because there’s no other reason to stop here.

TYG-EA: Unless they want to see our dogs our something.
So it diminishes some of the walk-in traffic, but the people who truly want to come, come. And we hope we’ve provided them with a spectacular experience. The neat thing is: one of the ways I gauge a lot of this is that Square allows your customers to provide a review of their visit after a credit card transaction. It’s a completely different environment from the reviews on the internet because it’s private. Square forwards those to me any time someone makes a comment. And the comments that we get continually are amazing. “I was only in there for five minutes, but boy I enjoyed my trip.” “We planned on being there for five minutes; we ended up spending half the day looking.” All this incredible stuff. You know, it makes me feel good when people feel good. There’s not a kid that comes here that doesn’t leave with a rock. We give them something, let them have a fossil, whatever. And then we make the best deal that we can for the adults too—but kids, they have a pretty good time.

TYG: Well, thank you so much!
Thank you!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Yachats Gazette, Issue 56, May 1, 2016

Interview with Terry K. Hovey, D.C.

Terry Hovey is a doctor of chiropractic medicine and is now practicing body balancing, neuro-reflex activation, whole food nutrition, and polarity therapy at the Yachats Healthcare Clinic on Beach St.

TYG: How did you get involved in the chiropractor business?
Well, I thought I was going to be a dentist. But I fell and hurt my back while I was in high school, and my mom took me to a chiropractor, and my pain was gone like that [snaps fingers], and I thought that was pretty cool! He showed me the charts of how the neuro-system works and it was pretty interesting. And then I forgot about that. I was enrolled in pre-dental studies, and about my second year, my biology teacher brought in two articles from Scientific American. One was called “Regeneration of Body Parts.” In the article, it talks about how if you cut off a salamander’s front leg, it gets a new front leg. If you cut a frog’s front leg off, you get a stump. Then—I don’t know why they decided this was a good idea—they took the nerve out of the hind leg, and put it in the part where they cut the leg off, where there really would be a stump, and it grew the front leg.

TYG: Ok, that’s creepy.
TYG-Graphic Design: A front leg?
Yep. Not a hind leg, but a front leg. And then they took just a nerve ganglion—a nodule of nerve—from along the spine, separate it so it wasn’t even connected to the wiring system of the nerves, and put those in there, and it grew a front leg. So the sum of the article was: the ability to regenerate body parts is directly related to the ratio of nerve tissue to somatic tissue in the area. That’s what chiropractors do: they release the nerve energy to the tissues. And I thought: That’s cool! And then the other article was about the pre-capillary sphincter. In our body, you know, you have little tiny capillaries to supply nutrients to the tissues. But if you have all the blood in all your capillaries at once, you’re in shock—there’s nothing going to your head. So the nervous system controls these little sphincters. 

TYG: Of course—that’s the way the body keeps pressure, by closing off certain things.
And it’s feeding part of the time here, part of the time there. And that little sphincter controls the nutrition, and the blood supply of the body. [...] So I read those two articles and said, “That’s it!”, and walked out of the school and signed up to be a chiropractor.

TYG-GD: That took a lot of nerve!
TYG-Editorial Assistant: So to speak.
Terry: [laughs]
Yes. And then later, I studied a class on a technique to release circulation by reflexes to the neurovascular system. I was there as a third semester student, studying these post-graduate seminars—whenever I would get a chance, I would get in the door. And the instructor said, “Well, Dr. Bennett discovered what he called the effector mechanism, which controls the circulation in the capillary bed, and therefore the nutrition and oxygenation of the tissues, and lately,” he said, “there’s been an article published in the Scientific American, and does anybody know what that mechanism is called?” And I said, “Well, it’s the pre-capillary sphincter.” And he said, “How did you know that?” And I said, “Well, I read it. My instructor gave me the article to read.” He said, “How long have you been practicing, Doctor?” And I said, “Oh, I’m a third-semester student.” And he said, “Well, we don’t allow students—but you can stay.” [laughter]

And years later, I had a patient who was a next-door neighbor to one of my assistants. He’d had a stroke, and one of his legs didn’t work, and his hand was [all curled up] and brown and cold, and he was catheterized for two years. And he always complained about his neck, and [my assistant] said, “Could you come and take a look at John’s neck?” So I said, “Sure!” and on my day off we went about 40 minutes up the road. And I thought, “Well, what the heck, I’m here...” so I held his points [which control circulation and balance] and five days later I’m in the office: “Doctor, come quickly!” John’s standing in the doorway. “Doc, I’m looking a lot better!” Walking. No catheter. Hand was a little warm, still a little [curled]. Two weeks later his hand is back, skin color is back. Two months later, he’s back practicing as a tile layer. Just that thing that I learned when I started as a student in that class—probably one in a million where he had just enough spasm that he couldn’t function, but his nerve tissue hadn’t been destroyed. And I just happened to touch that spot, and [snaps fingers].

TYG: [awed whisper] That’s incredible. That must have been amazing to see him recover.
Yes! I’ve had a lot of transient ischemia patients that recover within minutes. [...] I’ve seen a lot of stroke patients, but most stroke patients have ruptured blood vessels, and if they have that, you can’t do much for them. But the transient ischemia patients, who have spasms in their vessels—there’s no damage to them. So there are probably a dozen of those where you can touch their heads and hold them, and within a few minutes they’re walking around.

TYG: That’s just incredible.
Yes, it really is. Well, the body is incredible! It’s all controlled by the nervous system, and it’s all alive.

TYG: I’ve often wondered what the definition of “alive” is. Like, you think about it, and you’ve got the classic seven things. But so many of them don’t work now. For example, one of the most key ones, reproduction, the ability to reproduce by itself: even the most basic robot, with the right set of materials and a good set of programs, can do that, can build another one. [...] So the line is getting more and more hazy between “alive” and “not alive.”
Well, there’s something that animates things and organizes them that’s intelligent, a force that makes things be whole and not fall apart, and continue on; in the chiropractic profession you call it the innate intelligence. You can call it whatever you like, but that life spark is there; it’s an intelligent function and it all processes through the nervous system. They estimate that the nervous system receives about 200 million messages a second, and puts out about 150 million messages a second just to keep you alive and functioning. If you take the nerves in the spinal cord and you make the nerves the size of the little thin wires in a telephone cord, the spinal cord would be a mile and a half in diameter. There’s a lot of stuff in there—a lot of stuff.

TYG: And of course neurons use single cellular fibers, which are much, much thinner than wire, so that’s the only reason we can have a spine.
And you think: there’s the neuron, the fluid around it, the cell membrane around that, and that thing can spark off a biochemical reflex that can send a neurological message at 260 miles an hour. There’s diffusion of the molecule inside and out of the membrane, and that’s what propagates the electromagnetic impulse; and that happens at up to 260 miles per hour.

TYG: I would think of that as more of an average, because it depends on where the sender and the receiver are. If the sender and receiver are right next to each other, it can be almost instantaneous. Or if the sender and receiver are linked by basically one very long neuron... as far as I can gather, most of the problems happen at checkpoints between the neurons—that’s where most of the slow-downs happen.
Yes, the transmission point where it jumps the gap.

TYG: Right, because at that point it goes from an electrical reaction to a chemical reaction. Chemical is inherently messier and slower.
Yes, most of those chemicals are made out of B vitamins and sugar.

TYG: Which can be damaged much more easily than electric signals by lack of vitamins.
Yes—nutritional deficiencies cause a lot of problems. If you don’t have the chemistry to make the chemicals your body needs to run on, things don’t work right. Nutrition is very important.

TYG-GD: So, did you use to be in Waldport?
Yes, we had a practice there, since 1993. And then last June we shut that and sold it to Dr. Adams. Then I took nine months off—I thought I was just going to quit, but then friends and patients I’d seen before asked me, “Well, will you please help me?” I like doing the work, but the thing that really put me off was the increased, lugubrious paperwork, and insurance companies dictating the healthcare. I mean if a person has a neurologic problem and is in danger of having a permanent loss and needs surgery, and insurance says well, we won’t approve that unless you have six weeks of conservative surgery first... Just all that kind of thing. [Here,] we don’t bill insurance, [and] that makes it fun again. Because I’m the person that decides. And the person who comes to see me, they get results—or not! I fix you, you pay me. You take your car to the shop, you pay to get it fixed.

When I started practice, there was no such thing as insurance! It was $7.00 a visit. And if you got results, people would tell their friends and they’d come to see you. And if you didn’t, you’re out of here! So the quality of care, the doctor had skills—because if you didn’t, you were out of business! When I was just out of school an article came out in the Wall Street Journal about the three most optimum earning professions: dentistry, medicine, and chiropractic. Chiropractic was second. Well, that year that the article came out, enrollment jumped 200%. Then you started getting insurance coverage, and they started having these seminars all about building your codes, how to satisfy the desires of the insurance companies so they’ll pay your bill. Patient care, technique—not even discussed. And that disgusts me. [...] Hey, if you want to make a lot of money, just go into real estate or open a store. I’m old-school—I’m just a codgy old-timer. [laughter] [...]

TYG-GD: So, what procedure do potential clients use to get in touch with you and schedule something?
Oh, you can just call 541-547-5889 and leave a message on the answering machine. We have hours on Tuesday morning and Thursday afternoons, and I’m mostly focusing more on diet and nutrition, health maintenance, that kind of thing.

TYG-GD: What does that consist of?
Well, the first two [diet and nutrition], I just look at symptoms, and see if they have functional symptoms that indicate deficiencies, and rule out any pathological symptoms or refer the [patient]. We use the Standard Process products. Dr. Lee started making these products—he was a dentist, and also an inventor. He had 101 patents on electrical stuff—coils, that kind of stuff. He was independently wealthy. Anyway, when he was 19 or 20, his mom was diagnosed with a heart condition and had about six months to live. And he’s this guy who’s really interested in nutrition, and very, very smart. He knew she had a crappy diet, so he said, “She’s dying of malnutrition.” He had things he figured would fill in all the gaps, and he called the product Catalyn, with broccoli and this and that. But what he did was take products that were organic, and dries them into a powder at 74°F, so they’re never cooked. So he had these little tablets which were the source of organic food, and that was his core thing. He gave that to his mom, and she lived another 12 years. So the neighbors asked for that stuff he gave his mom, and then he had to build a large facility to produce it. And then if he got a specific challenge, like thyroid or whatever, he would make them a custom formula for that. And he also discovered that he could take the cellular structure apart, and take material out of the nucleus—in modern medicine they call it the determinant factors: if you take a thyroid cell and put it into a liver cell it turns into a liver cell—he called them protomorphogens, things that are there before it takes form. He used these to regenerate damaged tissue. He extracted them and put them in tablet form. [...] The products evolved, so there’s thyroid formula, and combinations that make it easy to absorb and function. The core is basically whole organic food nutrition to fill in the gaps and to get away from the stuff that destroys health: sugar, things that deregulate your autoimmune system and your fat metabolism system. So I provide diet and nutrition advice.

TYG-GD: So you do that more of that than the actual adjustments?
No, we do the adjustments—everything’s an adjustment. If the body’s out of balance, it affects the nervous system. If the nervous system is irritated, it affects the musculature, particularly along the spine. So a lot of things that chiropractors adjust are misalignments and tensions that develop in the spine as the result of organ irritations from the inside out. So it’s a two-way street. The nervous system is all one merry-go-round—where do you want to get on? Mental stress, physical excess, fatigue, lack of nutrition—all those things that affect the living organism are mediated through the nervous system. We’ll have people come in, and find that they have a particular pattern of spinal distortion—a very common one is like third, fourth thoracic vertebra. That’s very often where you find the reflex from the gallbladder. So when I find that, I ask them: “Do you have any trouble with digestion?” So I poke around their gall-bladder and check their liver, and [...] if they’re tender, I say “Wow, I could adjust you forever and it would be good for my pocketbook, or we could talk about changing your diet and nutrition, making your gall-bladder happy so it’s not bombarding your spine causing the spasms that make your back hurt and your limbs out of place!” 

TYG: Or of course there might be a gall stone.
Yes, there can be gall stones, pathologies... the functional symptoms are usually pretty mild. For instance, liver symptoms could be a pain behind the eye, sometimes a milky film on the eye—you can’t get rid of it, but your eyes are healthy. We have a symptoms survey form, and it has all these crazy symptoms, grouped by liver/gall-bladder, or pancreas/gall-bladder, adrenals, thyroid. And if it shows up, we can do blood tests, find out if it’s a pathology or not. And if it’s a functional problem, here is where we relieve the stress, usually through diet and nutrition.

TYG: Thank you so much for your time!
Thank you—it was a pleasure!

Interview with Maeona Urban, Painter
The Yachats Gazette was pleased to speak with Maeona Urban, a painter who moved to Yachats about three years ago with her husband Ron. Maeona is part of the Yachats Arts Guild.

TYG: So, what kind of art do you do?
Mostly I do oil paintings. I do some watercolor and some acrylic, but I like paintings the best.

TYG: I’ve never personally worked with oil, but I hear it’s a very fun medium.
I like it because I like the way it smells. My husband doesn’t think it smells so good. [laughs]

TYG: I have sort of a similar thing with Sharpies. Just the smell of them... I wouldn’t say “intoxicating,” because that’s not the right word, but it’s sort of a nice smell, and I enjoy working with them.
It’s also forgiving, because oil painting doesn’t dry quickly, so I can push it around where I want to, and oil paints cover up other oil paints. If you make a mistake, you just wait for it to dry, you paint over it.

TYG: Acrylic is sort of the same, but it’s not quite as good. There’s a bit of mixing. But for watercolor... phhh. You make a mistake, you have to re-start the whole painting.
Well, there are things you can do, but it changes the picture. The artist that did the... my mind went blank: he did the Campbell’s soup cans...

TYG-Graphic Design: Andy Warhol?
Andy Warhol, yes. A lot of his paintings are acrylic, and they’re starting to let go of the canvas. So they’re trying to figure out how to maintain the paintings... and there are some other paintings that are some fairly famous works of art that are done in acrylics that are also starting to let go.

TYG: You know what would be amazing... Can you imagine if you were able to take the paint off as one unit, and then have it, so it has holes where he didn’t paint. So it almost becomes like an iron-clad thing—you know, like the artwork that’s on fences, often? Can you imagine how cool that would look with the classic old soup can!
Maeona: [laughter]
Yes! You can kind of do that with Polaroid photography—are you familiar with the old Polaroid cameras where you take a picture and then you pull it out the end of the camera? They’re kind of self-developing. Well, there’s a method—it’s called Polaroid transfer (real imaginative name). You take the picture, and then you put it into water. The gel that the picture is in separates from the piece of paper. And then you can slide other materials in behind it very carefully, sort of work your way up, and pick the photograph-developed gel onto new material. You can put it onto antique materials, and it looks like it’s a hundred-year old photograph. It’s very difficult, like trying to pick up not-quite-set Jello. It can kind of be fragile at the edges, and it gives them this funny antiqued appearance. Our oldest son took courses at Seattle Art Institute Photography, and he made some like that. They’re pretty cool!

TYG: How did you get into oil painting?
Maeona: My mother was attempting to do some painting, and I was eight years old, and when she finished what she was doing she gave me what was left on her palette. I have my first completed oil painting still—I have it hanging on the wall in the other room. It’s a baby duck [said in a funny voice]! [laughter] It’s kind of a funny little painting when I look back on it! But I’ve been doing oil painting since I was eight, and my grand-mother (my mother’s mother) grew up in a Quaker family, in an era where women didn’t work outside of the home. So Quaker women all learned painting and arts and crafts and sewing and knitting and crocheting and canning and all the things women should know. So she, from home, taught ceramics and china painting.

TYG-GD: So they did work, but it had to be from home?
It had to be from home. They could make things, and sell things, you know, hand-made items...

TYG-GD: What was the rationale behind that?
TYG: Probably the men didn’t want the women to take credit.
It was just the way things were—women didn’t work outside the home. It was just one of those rules we’ve outgrown. So she did a lot of those things. [My mom] was just searching for something to do. She was okay at it—she still has some of the paintings that she did. But eventually she figured out that she liked making jewelry and rock-hounding, making the jewelry from scratch. My step-dad did silver-smithing, and so they made jewelry!

TYG: That must have made a good combination!
Yes. They’re 90 years old this year, and they’ve just decided to sell their rock-cutting and all the equipment that goes with making cabs [cabochons: half-rounded focal point polished stones] and jewelry. And last year... or was it two years ago? Marc Taylor’s shop [Nature’s Bling] was still a second-hand store, and he went over to my parents and bought more rock than his wife was pleased with. [laughter] He brought it back, and ever since then the stuff he’s been doing with the rocks has exploded exponentially.

TYG: Absolutely. Some of the stuff he has is just beautiful.
I just go down there and look—I can’t bring things home, or I’d bring it all home. So I feel like I should apologize to his wife. [laughter] Rock-hounding, and the pretty stuff they make from them whether it’s jewelry or sculptures or whatever—they just form a community bond. My parents used to go every year to a place called Quartzite, Arizona. It is, and isn’t, sort of a town: once a year, everybody—nationally and internationally—takes their campers and RVs and whatever they’re going to stay in, and they all go to Quartzite—thousands of people!

TYG-GD: It’s like Burning Man.
Yes! It’s like that—only it’s about rocks. They all meet there and buy and sell and trade rocks and talk with each other about all the new stuff they’ve found.

TYG-GD: So is oil painting the only kind of art that you do?
No, I still do some acrylic. The northwest coast Native American artwork designs that I do I do in acrylic, because it dries quickly. Because I do them on small canvases with small detail, I have a tendency to lay my hand on it, so I do it in acrylic because acrylic dries quickly.

TYG: Can you imagine if you did that on an oil painting? The whole painting would be wrecked!
Well, I’ve done it a whole lot of times. [laughs] Oil painting is very forgiving. Sometimes I do, I just push it back into place. Like this painting here [motions to the “Beach Fort” ] ...

“Beach Fort,” Maeona Urban, 2016. Oils.
(Note: shadow at the top is from the easel)

TYG: Whoah, that’s a painting? I thought it was a photograph—that’s amazing!
I’ve been working on that one for more than a month. It’s totally dry right now. I’ve done it in sections, and I’ve been posting as I go along online—specifically for my oldest sister in Mayville, Oregon, because her and her friends paint there, and she asked me to post them as I did them so they would be able to ask me questions and I could give them pointers on how to do things on their paintings. But the white that comes right out of the tube on the foreground there has taken almost a month to dry, and I have more detail I want to work on without laying my hand on that. So I’ve had to wait for that to dry so I can go in and finish just a few other little details that I want to put in. [...] They don’t always turn out that well. Some paintings, when I paint outdoors, when I do what’s called plein air painting, sometimes I go there and I paint three or four hours, and I come home and I look at it and I say to myself, “Ick.” [laughter] “I don’t like what I did today.” I take an old rag, and a can of paint thinner, and I just smear it all off of the canvas, throw it in the corner, and wait for another day.

TYG-GD: Isn’t that hard to do? Did you have to learn to be able to accept that part of painting?
Yes. For a long time—and sometimes still, even—when I do a painting, I’m never really, totally satisfied. There’s always something I’m looking at going, “Oh, I should have done...” or “I could...” and I really don’t like to hang my paintings around where I’m going to have to look at them. Because thirty years later, I’m still going “I should have...” [laughter] And to get to the point of wiping them off, yes. Because lots of times I would let them dry, and then rework them. And rework them. And rework them. And they didn’t get any prettier. So I realized I was wasting a lot of effort and mental aggravation. It’s a lot easier to just come home and realize that I didn’t get what I wanted and just take a big rag and wash it off. 

TYG: Wow. It must take quite some mental resolve.
It takes, I think, less—I think that’s why I learned to do it—than to keep it and try to fix it. If somebody gets a third eye, it’s just not going to get any better. [laughter]

TYG: Where were you before here?
Before here we came from Scappoose, Oregon, which is about 25 miles northwest of Portland.

TYG: I think I’ve passed through there once!
TYG-GD: Yes, because we used to live in Kalama, Washington.
If you go from Portland to Astoria, you have to go through Scappoose.

TYG-GD: It’s along the Oregon side of the Columbia [River], and then there’s a bridge to Longview.
We lived there 38 years, and we vacationed here 30 years. So when we retired, our kids were old—they’re 42 and 47—and we just said, “Bye! We’re going to the beach!” [laughter]

TYG-GD: Who are you calling old? [laughter]
For kids, they are! They’re not ... thirteen?

TYG: Yes, just turned! April 10!
Oh right, teenager! Hah! “Hire a teenager while they still know it all!” [laughter, and protestations from the Publisher] Before [Scappoose], I came from Portland—I was born and raised in Portland. So I haven’t traveled that far. [...] Most of my experiences have been right here in Oregon. I’ve been to [Canada, to] Yellowstone, and I’ve been over the border into California, and that’s about it. I don’t travel well—when I was in the sixth, seventh grade I got scarlet fever, and back then you either got well or you died from it. It affected my equilibrium, so I get car sick, train sick, plane sick, boat sick—if it moves, and I’m not in control, I can get sick really quick because I have inner ear problems. So I don’t travel a lot, because it’s not all that fun! [laughter]

TYG: How did you get involved with “Art in the Kitchen”?
I’m a member of the Yachats Arts Guild, and we were discussing ways to let the community know that the Art Guild existed other than the sales that we have on the Fourth of July and on Labor Day. And it was one of the ideas that came up during that discussion, to invite people to all come gather together and do art work! It’s also one of the things that the guild I belonged to in Columbia County did, and there was a group of 70 artists that I belonged to—the Portland Plein Air Artists—we did that with them as well.

TYG: I still have some questions about the Art in the Kitchen program. Is there an age limit, positive or negative?
I don’t think there’s an age limit, or an ability [requirement]. It’s a $5 donation because we have to rent the room from the Commons. You should come down!

TYG: I prefer pencils and markers.
I’ve been bringing—for the last few times, although I don’t come every week—I’ve been bringing an adult coloring book and an extra pack of pencils, in case somebody just comes in and doesn’t know what we’re doing and wants to join in. I’ve been doing a project that I’ve been working on several years in the Art in the Kitchen. It’s called my “Anglo-Saxon Colored Pencil Folk Art Bible.” [laughs]

TYG: Long title!
It needs all the words to describe what it is. It’s “Anglo-Saxon” because I’ve been raised within a white community, and so my teachings, what people have taught me, are from a white English-speaking reference point. They’re 18” by 24” posters. I’m doing one poster for each book of the Bible, and it’s in colored pencil, and it’s not in a detailed, realistic style—it’s loose. So it’s the “Anglo-Saxon Colored Pencil Folk Art Bible.” But I’ve been doing that down there, because I usually have my oils set up here and I’m working on something, and I don’t want to take it down to work on my colored pencil stuff, and then when I get the colored pencil stuff up, I don’t want to take it down to put the oil stuff back. So I’m using that colored pencil project to take down to Art in the Kitchen. That’s my Wednesday project. [Art in the Kitchen takes place in the kitchen room at the Commons on Wednesdays from one to four in the afternoon.]

TYG: I thought you had to be an adult to do it...
TYG-GD: Oh no!
It’s not teaching, it’s not class time and stuff like that; it’s just everybody brings what they want to do and works on it, and we all look at what everybody is working on and go “Oh cool!” and sometimes we ask each other for help, like “What does this picture need?” The picture your mom just finished, with the blue bird catching the fish: we all sort of agreed that her log in the picture needed to extend out past the bird a little. Your mom did that to it, and it really made a difference, I think. So we kind of help each other.

TYG: Anything else you want to talk about?
The button collection! I inherited a button collection that used to belong to my grandmother. Then my mother worked on it, and my mother is 89 now, and she has passed it on to me. There’s something ridiculous like over 5,000 buttons in it. There are buttons from the Civil War, the Revolutionary War, military buttons, buttons from the 1800’s women’s clothing, and ... there’s a LOT.

TYG-GD: All kinds of different materials?
Yes! There’s metal ones and glass ones and plastic ones. I’ve learned six or eight different kinds of names for plastics, what metals are magnetic and which ones are not. So I’ve been studying the buttons. In the internet age in which we live, we can just type in stuff and find out about things. When my grandmother and my mother were studying these things, there was no internet, so they didn’t have as much information. It’s been interesting for me. I took the metal ones first, because a lot of the metal ones have words imprinted on them and I’ve looked them up on the internet, just typing in what the words were. So I got information about historic things, and Civil War things, and all kinds of railroads. 

TYG: That’s my thing!
I have buttons from the people who worked on the railroads in the 1800’s—I have buttons from their uniforms. I have a button from the uniform of a person who worked at the Oregon State Mental Hospital.

TYG-GD: How did you even get it?
My grandparents lived in Salem, and I don’t know if they knew someone...

TYG-GD: I mean, what do they say? “Hi, I like your buttons, do you mind if I take one for my granddaughter 200 years from now?” [laughs]
Well, it’s on a card that has work uniform buttons. But how she got that particular one, I really don’t know. I don’t know how she got any of them, you know. “Can I have the buttons off your pants?” [laughter] There’s a lot of imported Czechoslovakian glass ones... it has the buttons off my grandfather’s World War I uniform, and her brother’s World War I uniform. There are national button societies, state button societies, local button clubs... I had no idea. None whatsoever. I went to my mother’s because she said she was going to give me the button collection. I hadn’t seen it since I was... ten? I expected a box of buttons. Instead, my whole trunk was full of boxes of buttons.

TYG-GD: And they come on these big sheets, right?
Yes. These ones I’m re-carding, because the card is falling apart. [...] They were sewn on, but the threads are rotten. And this is what the official Button Society cardboard looks like. I mean, they even have “official cardboard.” [laughter] These are from the 18th century. And these—can you feel that material? What that was for is, they didn’t bathe regularly. So they didn’t smell very good! 

TYG: [laughs] So that is a smell absorber, or a perfume carrier?
Yes! To make you smell good, after you haven’t taken a bath. [Looks through more button cards] They’re everywhere!

TYG: Wow. My mom has a couple of these! I’ve always loved the pure black ones.
There’s boxes and boxes of them. [A box falls on the Publisher] My “Anglo-Saxon Colored Pencil Folk Art Bible” is attacking you! This one is the book of Isaiah! [She takes the drawing out of the box.]

TYG: [gasps] Mom, come and see this!
She sees them every Wednesday.

TYG: Wow. It’s amazing! [...] Well, thanks so much, Maeona!
Thank you, Allen!