Sunday, December 1, 2019

The Yachats Gazette, Issue 96, December 1 2019

For a printable version of Issue 96, click here.
Interview with Breadworks

The Yachats Gazette spoke with Rick Cave and Annette Wojciechowski in their store, located directly behind Midtown Guitar Co. on 4th Street in Yachats.

Annette Wojciechowski and Rick Cave of Breadworks
TYG: So how did you guys come to Yachats?
Rick: Well, I came to Yachats from outside of Park City, UT. I had sold my house, and had the opportunity to live on the Oregon Coast, something I'd wanted to do my whole life—I'm a born Oregonian. So I headed to the coast; I'd been to Florence many times, and I'm from Southern Oregon, so I'd seen all of the southern Oregon Coast. I'd probably been here when I was a kid, but didn't remember it. So I headed north from Florence, and found here! Spent a couple of days here, went to Waldport, left there, went to Newport,  came back here, and the evening I came back here I was led to a property management place and ended up with a house three days later—on 3rd Street, a block away from the ocean. It was like I was told to be here—that's how I got here! [laughter] And I've been here seven years now.

TYG: Seems to happen to people a lot around here.  
Annette: I found Yachats 19 years ago, because we had friends whose parents had lived here, and who moved here. They told my husband and I, "You have to come to Yachats! You have to come to Yachats!" So we came to Yachats and we bought a property up-river 19 years ago. However, I never got a chance to live here until three years ago, when I came here to take care of the property that is now my former husband's property. So I finally got to live here after so many years! So I'm pretty happy to be here! There was always the will to get here, but it's not always so easy.

TYG: There seem to be a lot of people who come here with weird fortuities... that's not a word! [laughter] So, how did you guys get the idea to open a bakery?
Rick: Well, when I was in Park City I had the opportunity to learn to be a baker. I'd been a professional stage manager for many years, and quit doing that and became a property manager. I went to work for a company that owned a hotel and a restaurant, and I got to work in the restaurant, and got offered learning to bake! And I went, "Uh, what am I, stupid? Yes!" [laughter] So years later, after a couple or three different companies, the last one being an artisan bakery that made twenty different kinds of bread, I moved here. And in the move here, it was, you know, "What am I going to do?" And it just wasn't kind of right, so I fixed broken houses for many years, and pretty much forgot about baking. And a couple of years ago I decided to make a Christmas dinner for my family in Eugene, and just went around and collected every kind of seafood I could find. Because I live on the coast! I start preparing this huge dinner, and ... dinner has to have bread, so I baked a bunch of breads and stuff! Couple of months later I had purchased the purple mixer under here, in Ashland—my recipes are for ten loaves or more. And so all of a sudden I'm baking in my house! And selling out of my car! I was baking pretty much every Friday, and selling bread out of my car—and it paid the rent! And I was still fixing broken houses—it was just kind of a side thing, and my back bedroom was a small, tiny little bakery. Eventually my landlady told me that you can't have a commercial thing going in a house, and I had to quit baking. That's what actually gave me the impetus to find a space. So I researched gluten-free bread for about a year, while aggressively looking for a space. Annette was a good friend of mine, and she started working with me...
Annette: ... fixing broken houses! [laughs]
Rick: And we have had a really good working relationship! And one day I was walking down the street and met Frank Male, the owner of these buildings, and kind of popped off, "Can I make one of those little shacks a bakery?" And he said, "No, they're going to be houses for people." And so I thought, "Well, that was a try!" And a couple of weeks later, I get a message saying, "Hey, why don't you look at this space, which used to be a kitchen?" So I did! Because I knew that Annette would come on board and help, I ended up making a deal with Frank and leasing the space, and literally re-doing the whole space. The ceiling was falling off, the lighting was nothing—it was a scary space. [laughter]

TYG-Graphic Design: The whole building—when Frank came in, he made a lot of renovations!  
Rick: Yes! So with help from a lot of friends, and Annette, and a loan from my brother who believed in my vision and in me, we were able to put this together, and look toward the future!

TYG: Certainly an awesome space!
Annette: We like it! It's manageable.
Rick: It was fun to be able to take a space, and go, "We're making it a bakery," and basically design it to where it works for us.
Annette: Well, we designed it with all of our needs in mind.
Rick: And the constraints of the building—where the plumbing is, that kind of thing.

TYG: Where's... Oh, there's the sink—I'm blind! 
Annette: We have a big wash sink way back there. That's the dish-washing sink.
Rick: And then that's a hand-washing sink [by the sales window], and this is the food preparation sink [by the back door.]
Annette: Yes—to be certified, there have to actually be three, separate areas for all of this to happen. Let alone actually making your bread!
TYG: That makes sense!

TYG-GD: That's a beautiful [wood] counter! But that's your only stove?
Annette: That is our oven. But it's a beast! [laughs] Yes! It's huge in there!
Rick: I can bake 15 loaves of bread at a time!

TYG: Wow! Can we look?
Rick: Oh yes! [we open it up] And it [takes] full sheet pans. And hopefully one day we'll have to get another one. We'll put it underneath it.

TYG: Is this one unit? You'd have to do some redesigning to get another one in there.
Rick: Well, they actually make some that are a double unit. When we get that big I'll just replace this one with a double unit.

TYG-GD: Is it really insulated?
Rick: Very. But it heats this place up. In the summer the doors have to be open. We bake the bread at 475°F.

TYG-GD: So, what does a typical baking day look like for you guys?
Annette: Well, Rick gets here maybe about 4 o'clock in the morning. We prep the day before. A typical baking day requires us to come in the day before and prep our different buckets depending on whether they're sourdoughs, or yeasted breads, or flavored breads. We get all those prepped so they can have a good rise. And then he's here at four in the morning throwing all the boules out [laying out balls of dough] and getting that all prepped. I come in about seven, and some of the baking is done. I'm usually making some sort of specialty item, so by that time he's now finished, and I can have the space for whatever I'm baking. Because it is a small space. [they both laugh]

TYG: It's bigger than I imagined though—I didn't realize how deep it was.
Rick: Yes! And having the table this size makes it so there's enough room for the both of us to work on most projects. Some of the projects I do take the whole table.
Annette: And that's why the first part of a regular baking day is definitely with Rick here to begin with. And I've come in and learned that process, so I can participate. So then generally we try to have everything baked off by nine, hence our "nine-ish" hours—nine-ish to two-ish. And then we sit in the window and have a hoot! [laughter] It's quite fun—I really enjoy that part, the interface with the public. It's fun—but he's been up for hours by then. He stays till the end of the day, which is usually about three. We try to close around two—we're usually selling out by then. And then there's the clean-up.
Rick: And then the prep for the next day.

TYG-GD: What days do you sell?
Annette: Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
Rick: And those will be our hours through the winter. Come Spring/Summer, that is likely to change.
Annette: We'll be adding more days.

TYG-GD: [to Annette] So what is your background in bread cookery?
Annette: I have a picture of the very first cherry pie that I ever made. I was about twelve—Grandma taught me how to bake, and I'm just good at it. Actually, my passion and my reason for being in here is because I have my own agenda [laughs], and I'll be offering the community sprouted beans and seeds: sprouts, micro-greens, and juices, come summertime.

TYG-GD: I think you'll have a lot of demand for that!
Annette: I believe so.

TYG-GD: So, are you making sprouted breads and stuff like that?
Rick: Yes.
Annette: Well, we do a sprouted bulghur, and we'll do more of that as I get my ship on board, then we can combine some things. But the focus has been getting the bakery going. My piece is a little simpler to implement, but we had to have everything in place first. That's up and coming soon, actually! I was going to wait until summer, but I think the sprouted beans and seeds could go now, as we're going into the time of year when there's not much healthy to eat.

TYG-GD: So what kinds of breads do you offer?
Rick: We offer chocolate-chipotle-lime, a very esoteric bread that makes a phenomenal French toast and peanut butter sandwich.

TYG-GD: Hmm! Is it more like a Mexican type of chocolate?
Rick: Yes, it's a dark chocolate. It's not a sweet bread at all. It's kind of spicy—almost a bite-type chocolate. We make a cheese bread and a Kalamata olive on a regular basis, and because of repeated requests I've gone to a sourdough—I rotate between a straight roasted garlic sourdough and a roasted garlic and rosemary sourdough. We've made bulghur breads—a very hearty wheat bread, sourdough rye...
Annette: ... and anything that's fun, like the holidays or the Celtic Festival, it's like, "Ooh, let's make some Irish soda bread." You know, it's fun to play. That's why I made the lemon poppy seed—I thought people coming to the Art Quilt Festival might enjoy that. Trying to be inspired by the events going on in town!
Rick: And that's something we look at! What events are happening, and like Annette said for the Celtic Festival, we did two different kinds of soda bread! And people went nuts over it! And we got requests the next week! "Can you make that soda bread again?" [laughs] And that, to both of us, is an amazing feeling.
Annette: Yes, that's really fun, to make something that people are like, "Oh, yesyesyesyesyes!" [laughs] Like his pretzels, and the stick bread.

TYG-GD: Mmm, like German pretzels?
Rick: Yes! My mentor was a Swiss chef. And the way he taught me, was: on some things he'd give me a twenty minute lesson; you'd better write it down, it's on the menu next week—and I was gifted with the ability to play with it for a week. With the pretzels... That actually took almost two months, to come up with a decent pretzel. One of the things is that we were at high altitude, which makes a difference in baking. The other was him—just the general, "It has to be something spectacular." And the fact that that was the way he taught! He said, "There's a goal here. So go ahead and make it, hand it out, test it." And so I learned the ability to create recipes. That is one of the things we will be doing here, is make something, and if people like it, we'll make it more!
Annette: Yes! I just got an opportunity to travel to Sicily, so we're thinking about making some pasta. That would be a fun thing. That's what I want to do: If I'm going to be in here, I'm going to have fun. Let's make something, try it out!

TYG-GD: You have such a beautiful table, you should make phyllo dough!
Rick: Oh, we will—and gluten-free, too. Like I said, I researched gluten-free for almost a whole year.

TYG-GD: And you've found a way to do it?
Rick: Oh yes! It's rather expensive, which is why we're not doing it yet, but it's something we're looking forward to providing.
Annette: And also some gluten-free treat type stuff, too. Maybe some sprouted crackers... I played with making home-made mustard for the pretzels, that was fun. It's kind of like, "What are we inspired by?" Because both of us, we have this baseline thing going, but for the rest of it...
Rick: For the mushroom festival, we did chanterelle mushroom gravy and biscuits!
Annette: We've been playing with that idea for the winter months—you know, it's all a creative process.
Rick: And listening to our community—we have a small community!

TYG-GD: And cakes? Did you say you did cakes?
Rick: No.
Annette: But if you need a cake we know somebody who does beautiful cakes.

TYG-GD: There are a bunch of people in Yachats who do cakes, too...
Annette: There's actually a new couple in town, and I think she's got that niche filled. [to Rick] Right? We're not going to take on cake-baking.
Rick: Oh no.
Annette: We've never discussed doing that.
Rick: I trained as a pastry chef, but we're going to be more bread-centric. I really don't intend on being a French-ish bakery. Do things that other people don't.
Annette: Our latest request... "Are you doing Thanksgiving rolls?" [deliberate pause] "Why yes, we are!" [laughter] We played with three different recipes, and we've chosen to make a potato roll. [laughs] By the end of the day, I'd eaten so much bread...
Rick: Oh, and we'll be providing all the bread for the Lions' Crab Feed in January! That's going to be a lot of bread—they're ordering almost a hundred loaves, big ones. And we're making stuffing for the Ladies' Club! Cubed herb and non-herb, and we added a little bit of rye.

TYG: What made you decide on this layout? Was this the only way to work with the space?
Rick: Well, the hood vent [over the stove and oven] was in the building. And there's a grease trap behind the wall here [between the guitar store and near the south door] that is plumbed to that corner of the building. There was no sink there when we moved into the building—there was plumbing to here. But it didn't go to the grease trap, and it was a huge sink.

TYG-GD: I guess I don't know what a grease trap really is—I've heard the term though. 
Rick: It's a big box that has a couple of partitions in it, and the water flows from up here to down here [as it moves across the partitions]. It lets the grease float, and the water drains from the bottom.

TYG: It's a filtering system, essentially.
Rick: Yes, and it's something that's required by the health department. So having that plumbed to over here in the corner, and that corner being the perfect space for cleaning, I was able to find a sink—after a lot of looking for the triple basin sink, which is required by law—then I modified the space and built the steel [splash-guard] that's up to the wall. I did all of that—all the curb work around it. And the big table we were originally going to put [on the opposite wall], but we'd have been looking through the stained glass window [into the guitar shop] so it just worked out better [to place it along the west wall]. [laughs]

TYG: You have great outlet access on that wall too.
Rick: We have plenty of electricity for the smaller units, yes.

TYG: I'm guessing there's 220 power in here somewhere. 
Rick: Yes, behind the stove. And the big stove is gas. I had gas brought in so that I could specifically determine cost—what it costs for baking. If I put it as an electric one, it would be part of the bill for the whole building.
Annette: And we really got the idea one day for a walk-up window, and it just ended up kind of working out! We talked with Frank, the land-owner, and so we designed the patio and built the awning over it.

TYG-GD: It's adorable, with a bench and flowers and everything! And... [looks closer] a bear! [a little figurine]
Annette: It is, really! [laughs] Yes, somebody just left that last night, actually. We came here this morning and that was there.

TYG-GD: There's one question I have: What is your hardest bread to make? Or trickiest?
Rick: [under his breath] The hardest one...

TYG: It's probably a good thing that you don't have an immediate answer... [laughter] 
Rick: Honestly, I've made all of the breads that we're baking right now for a number of years, and except for small modifications because of being at sea level, they're not really hard for me...
Annette: He's really fast at it, too! I tried to do it one day, and eventually he was like, "Okay, I've got to get this done!" [laughter]
Rick: There are one or two that I've made that I'm not particularly fond of, but I don't eat them anyway. A lot of the product I make I taste, but I rarely eat.

TYG-GD: That's better for your waist-line, I guess! [laughs] 
Annette: I eat a lot of it, I do. [laughs] I'm like, "Oh, that scone. It broke." [laughter]

TYG: Great! Thank you so very much for your time!
Rick: Thanks!
Annette: Thanks for calling on us!

Interview with Emily Crabtree of ??? 

Help Emily Crabtree choose a name for her new record store, which will be opening the week before Christmas above the Midtown Guitar Co. shop! You can e-mail Emily with your pick at She brought a list of names with her to the interview, which are as follows: Perpetua Records, Spindrift Music, Vortex Vinyl, Siren Songs Music, Wild Coast Records, Sunset Music, Tsunami Sounds, or Gem & Wave Records. Or feel free to suggest your own! 

Emily Crabtree

TYG: Let's get this started!
Emily: Alright! I'm pulling up my list. I didn't know if you'd done this before with your paper, but I was hoping you'd be up for it, to have a little contest of sorts, and to give my e-mail to people and have a list of names. I'm really struggling! I don't have a name yet, but I brought my list, and it's long. My creative writing classes are paying off, but unfortunately making it much harder to narrow down! [laughs] My hope is that you would be up for asking your readers to e-mail me what they think is a good name.

TYG: Absolutely! 
Emily: So I was here [at the Drift Inn] maybe two months ago, brainstorming and writing down ideas, and this very lovely couple beside me were like, "What are you doing, writing in a book? Who does that anymore?" And I was like, "Well, I do. And I'm doing it because I'm opening a record store!" They gasped, and said, "Oh, did you hear? Vinyl sales are actually surpassing sales of CD's, and they've never really gone away." As someone who's been very much in the music industry on the low end, underground scene, records are always there, and tapes! In one of my old bands, if we hadn't made tapes we would have gone broke on tour. But instead, we were able to sell them, and people could hold them in their hand. There's a really sweet thing about that that makes people have more intention with their music. That's why I love the idea. So each name could be either Records, Vinyl, or Music. So I'm trying to decide which one. People love alliteration. But their suggestion was that if I use Vinyl, people these days don't know how to spell. [laughs] And I was like, "So sad!" but also, "That is true..." So, there's that.

TYG: My two favorites are Perpetua Records and Spindrift Music! 
Emily: Because I want the name to be simply something that people just know as Yachats. Because I want to start the business to make our community be more vibrant. That's why I want folks to be able to weigh in if they feel like it.

TYG-Editorial Assistant: So why do you want to open a record store?
Emily: Because I love music. And because I thought about if I'm just sitting in a shop, what would I want to have around me that would never be boring, that would ceaselessly be entertaining? And it's music, to me. And when you have a space that has music, you can do so much more to have live music. Or even just simple things: I'm going to have a speaker that will play out to the street—because I want people to have people be like [snaps fingers], "Oh, what is that?" and to feel a groove and feel good about their day. To me, I think that music is this beautiful kind of art that involves every other kind of art. There's the physical record that you hold in your hand, the person that made the art on the sleeve; the people that wrote that poetry; the musicians that recorded it—I just think that it's this beautiful epicenter that's all braided together to create something that we all can enjoy. And I've been on people's records, and recorded music, and been in my own bands—and that was so satisfying, a distinct feeling that I didn't get anywhere else in my life. My hope is that I can kind of cultivate that for Yachats.

TYG-EA: Why vinyl?
Emily: Good question! [laughs] I guess my earliest memories were my father's vinyl collection. He had a big papa-san chair and a huge 70's headphone set, and I think I was around twelve, when I really just needed some space to myself, to not have to listen to all the noise in the world, and to really be able to just center and focus and sort of trip out. And it was sitting there for hours and having that space given to me was just ... Even the tactile [memory], the way it feels to just pull it out: it's really a good feeling! And I love records because they don't become trash, like a CD does. Even the ones that become scratched—I'm refurbishing the space, and I'm going to use those. You can make cute stuff out of them, shoot a BB gun at them... [laughs] And there's this warmth to it—it takes a little more intentionality, which I really like. You can't just... I can be somewhat ADD, so a record really makes me focus. I can get up and move around if I want, but... just let it ride. Just let it ride, you know? I like that. It just feels like something I hope other people can get back into, as well... Generationally, the music industry sort of tried to tamp down the fact that people were even still collecting records. I love people being nerdy about the thing they love. Folks have always been like that about records.

TYG: Nowadays, people have pretty much given that up, in terms of the "trying to suppress it." I mean, we bought a new record player! It's actually quite a cool piece—it's got a 4-way function: radio, tape, CD, and records. 
Emily: They're great! My hope is that it will help generationally bond people a little again. When I tell people I'm doing this, every age person seems to have an emotional connection to that idea. A lot of people are like, "Oh, I wish I'd never given away my record collection—it makes me think of this time in my life..." and I'm like, "Well then, come in, and let's do that again for you!" So I'll always have refurbished, vintage record players for sale. And I want people to be like, "Oh, I haven't listened to Fleetwood Mac's Tusk in forever!" and I can say, "Well, you should, because there are some hilarious jammers on there." Like where they are gets so weird—I think on that album they hired an entire marching band, and rented out a football stadium? I was like "Oh my god, you guys have too much money." I'm glad they did it, but the songs are ridiculous. I want people to have that time, I think. And especially in a world where everything is so digital, here's a moment where you don't have to be. So, we'll see! I'm definitely not getting into it to make my millions! [laughs] 

TYG-EA: So, are you thinking mostly new, or used, or...?
Emily: So right now, I have a good friend that runs a record store in Portland—shout out to Jared! I put a call out on Facebook (of all places), and he got back to me. He owns Clinton Street Record and Stereo and has always done really well. He's a DJ, and sells refurbished audio equipment. He said he looked through all of his records for doubles, and he said, "I've got a great deal for you, I want to help your company, we've been friends for a long time and I really believe in your vision." So I bought my first big bulk amount. So up there in the space right now I have over 250 records. I have 100 45's, and 200 tapes. I like to think I have good taste in music, so I'm going through my own record collection, and I'm going to release some things that I know I couldn't live without at one point, but it's okay—I don't need to have two Nancy Sinatra records that have the same songs in different orders. I can pick the one I want, or maybe I'll sell that one, because there's a Lee Hazlewood/Nancy Sinatra record that has duets. It's one of my favorite records ever, and I'm like, I could never get rid of it. But the idea of selling it to someone who will either find it fresh and new, or someone who already loved that music and is getting to know it again, is a way to feel really good about cathartically getting rid of things I love.

TYG: It's like a way to pass it on.
Emily: Right! Tom, my husband, asked "[in a dramatically tearful tone] Are you going to sell all our beautiful records? " "Yes, baby, I am." Not all of them, but maybe. It's like, maybe it was my favorite sweater for five years, but I haven't worn it in two. You can pass it on, you know. [laughs] [To be continued.]

The Yachats Gazette will continue our conversation with Emily Crabtree in the 97th issue in January. Don't forget to send in your preference for a store name!

As well as Breadworks and Emily's store, we want to remind our readers that Dark Water, the famous Yachats souvenir shop, has moved from its previous location near the Drift Inn to the front south portion of the Midtown Guitar Co. complex. Store co-owner Noah Goughenhour had just a few remarks to share: 

"We opened on November 24, and we turn on our OPEN light 1 to 5, everyday. We are still a family business: Dave worked on fixing up the interior, Su will be doing more buying, and I will be helping customers. The space is smaller than our previous spot, so we had to select what we show, our stock will continually change. Frank and Kathy offered us a space in Midtown when we found there were no commercial buildings open for rent. There is a lot more walk-by traffic at this new location. We expect that being next to the Commons events, the farmers market and part of a complex with other shops should be a good mix and inviting to new customers."

We wish every one of you a wonderful month of December, and thank you for supporting us for yet another year. Next year will bring Issues 97, 98, 99, and 100--and then it's off to college! 

Friday, November 1, 2019

The Yachats Gazette, Issue 95, November 1 2019

Click here for a printable Issue 95

Interview with Marc Taylor

The Yachats Gazette spoke with Marc Taylor, who has returned to Yachats from Sisters to reopen his Roadrunner Rock Shop, located right next to the Post Office.

The Roadrunner Rock Shop
TYG: So, for our readers, tell the tale of how you ended up selling the Sisters store.
We put together an absolutely beautiful store in central Oregon. We were there about a year and a half, and decided that we may look at not being there anymore because I didn't much care for the area. My wife, my family, loved it, but it wasn't for me. We had some people coming in on a Sunday afternoon, saying that they were looking for a place to put a rock shop in Bend—I said you need to quit looking and just buy this one! Twenty minutes later, we shook hands, and within 30 days the deal was done. The people who bought it—we are no longer affiliated with that store anymore—have done a good job of what they do, and we are grateful to be back in Yachats doing what we do here.

TYG: So, I know you rock-hounded around North America for what, 16 months?
We traveled for 16 months, and spent about half that time in Nevada, which is our very favorite place to go rock-hunting besides here. And it was a ball. We went to mine sites all over the place, we found crystals, we found rocks, fossils, and minerals and all different kinds of things. We found a little bit of silver, we found all kinds of neat little things. As of July 1st, we decided it was time to be done traveling. We were going to set up for a month in the parking lot like we'd done the year before, however we decided this time to acquire the building, so we have a major project ahead of us, but we're very excited about it.

TYG: How long was this place for sale, anyway?
Well, different stages at different times, but it was empty a couple of times for three years at least, I think.

TYG: Alder closed that long ago? Wow, time flies. It feels like last month. [They break for a customer.] So, what was your favorite part—or favorite few parts—of your... well, I'm loathe to call it a vacation...
You know, it wasn't about rocks. It wasn't about fossils. It wasn't about minerals. It was about what happened to our family, how close we became, and how, as opposed to four individuals living in this great big house, we became one true, honest-to-goodness family forced to live in 38 feet, rain, shine, sleet, snow, whatever it was! Even through the trying times, the hard parts of it, the driving over crazy mountains and curves and all of that, we became a more cohesive unit. My children are way better people for it, and gratefully, so are my wife and I. We just became better people, I think was the best part of the trip. It was also cool to see wildlife, and open a piece of the ground that had crystals in it, to be the first person who's ever gotten to see those things—that's pretty exciting stuff. But what it did for us as a family was truly what I'm excited about.

TYG: Slightly anecdotal, but I heard mention you found a small deposit of silver or something?
Yes, we found a little bit of silver in central Nevada, but it is so expensive to process that it is absolutely not worth dealing with unless you're somebody that's going to be one of the big companies.

TYG: Or unless there's a lot of it?
Well, there was a lot of it—it just wasn't worth dealing with. It was also a place where I didn't want to be forever—it's a place that I really like to go visit and have fun, and I would have had to make some pretty major investments to get things to pan out (no pun intended).

TYG: So, what made you choose this space?
Well, Yachats is home, and it always will be. I absolutely love this area. And the Alder building—or the La Serre building, whatever you want to call it—the rock shop building, was available. There's not a lot of space here [in the town], and I saw a long-term project and a tremendous potential for growth in a community that has always treated me very well. Now I have an opportunity to show, and do, what we love, in a great place that we love. As you know, living here—this is pretty magical. I've been all over, and... I want to be here. I feel pretty fortunate to get this space. We worked out a great deal on the building, and I've got five years of work ahead of me, or more, but that's okay. It's a big project that we're going to do as a family and have fun with it.

TYG-Editorial Assistant: What are some of your up-coming plans for it?
So, by Saturday, our dinosaur dig site is going to be open. We're adding a fluorescent room where the old cooler used to be. We're doing a gem-mining station that will include a water wheel and the whole thing. We're taking where the old bar was and making an extension of my living room. We're going to put in some great, big crystals, a dinosaur or two, and just a nice, quiet sitting space that we want to share with the community. [Another customer break—that turns into having to come back another day.]

TYG: So, how have you been enjoying being back so far?
Probably one of the best decisions we've made as a family ever. When we first got back here we weren't sure how well it was going to work or not, and we took a gamble, and I think it's going to be of benefit to our community and our family. We're pretty excited about it and what we're going to be doing in the future.

TYG: Sure! So, where do you get [the rocks]? I know some of them you get from your travels.
Some of them we've collected ourselves, when we were rock hounding in the western part of the US. But we've developed relationships with mine owners all over the world over the past several years. We feel really fortunate to have good relationships with people who are both processing, and mining for themselves. By buying direct, we get to eliminate all of the middle men. So we travel and do big shows, and also, as they find it, we'll get new products.

TYG-Graphic Design: Did I understand you went to South America?
No, we haven't gone to South America yet. We have really strong relationships in South America, and Morocco. But neither place have we gone with the family yet. Morocco has one of the largest concentrations of minerals anywhere in the world, because of the Atlas Mountains. There is over 500 miles of just incredible stuff. You can find everything from 500 million year old fossils to incredible mineral specimens within a mile of each other. It's really amazing.

TYG-GD: So it used to be a seabed, I guess?
Yes, especially the Western Sahara. That used to all be under water. [greets the first customer of the day] That is a prolific area for fossils. There's an area called Kem Kem, Morocco, where probably 70% of our fossils come from. The mosasaur was a big amphibious predator, an apex sea predator, and there's a huge concentration of their fossils in that area. We deal direct with some fossil hunters who bring it to the US. So we get some pretty phenomenal stuff that way.

TYG-GD: Wow, that's amazing! How did you make that contact?
So, we bought a company that was already in existence and had been for many, many years. When we did that—he had developed some relationships—we morphed them into who we wanted to deal with, who were probably related to the people he dealt with. So we started there, but expanded on it and found our own people. 

TYG-GD: Wow! Do you want to go travel over there some day?
Absolutely! And I want to do it as a family. But I want to wait a couple more years until Mikey [his youngest son] is a little older. And then Quentin [his oldest son] will be bigger and stronger and can help lift more. [laughter from everyone except maybe Quentin]

TYG: I also noticed you had quite a lot of stuff from Madagascar. Is that the same system?
Madagascar has over 4,000 different minerals on that one little tiny island. There are 54,000, approximately, documented minerals in all—so that there would be 4,000 of them in that small area is incredible. But the jaspers, the agates that come out of there, just the way that volcanic area is, produces a tremendous amount of really cool materials. And it's very pretty material. So we sell a lot of it for home decor.

TYG: And is it the malachite that comes out of there as well?
Most of the malachite that we have comes from the Congo, in Africa. However, we do get some out of Morocco as well, and Brazil—most anywhere there's copper, you're going to be able to find malachite, azurite, copper-related minerals. And so we've got some malachite that we found ourselves in Nevada.

TYG: I've always been curious—where do you get the selenite?
The selenite comes out of Erfoud, Morocco, and that's a fiber optic selenite that carries the light really well. We deal direct with the line that gets it, and it's one of the more beautiful minerals that we sell, but it's also fairly inexpensive.

TYG: It's also one of the most fragile!
We carve it into all kinds of things. And you say fragile: it is, it's a 2.5 hardness, which means that it's going to be fairly soft. But it's gypsum; it's the same mineral that they make sheet rock out of.

TYG: Presumably, some of your amber comes from the Baltics second-hand.
Correct. None of our amber, except the stuff we get out of Indonesia, do we buy direct. We get a little bit out of Columbia, we get some out of Brazil, some out of Africa but very little; we get lots out of Madagascar. It has lots of great inclusions: bug, all kinds of little sweat bees and ants, gnats and stuff. The amber we get out of Indonesia is a blue amber, and it's called a Sumatran Blue. It actually fluoresces under black light. We have access to that direct, and so we're bringing in quite large quantities of it.

TYG-GD: Why is it second-hand from the Baltics?
Because there's no more coming out of the ground. They're not really mining much for it anymore. They'll mine the occasional pieces, but most of the Baltic amber that's on the market is all that's available.

TYG: The Baltics were the source of amber for thousands of years. From what I understand there was an unbelievable amount there, and it's just been slowly mined out. So, do the geodes come out of Morocco and Madagascar as well?
I don't get any geodes out of Madagascar. I do however get them from Morocco, and lots and lots from Mexico, Iowa, Idaho. They're literally all over the world. Just depends on what we're looking for as to where we get them.

TYG-GD: Have you gotten to recognizing them yourself when you see them? How do you know?
Oh yes. Experience, you know. On probably 80% of them, I can tell you where it came from. But there are a lot of them out there that I've never seen, or don't know how to identify. But for the most part, we've done a pretty good job of studying up where different kinds of things come from. We have three different geodes that come from Durango, Mexico, that are all from less than 20 miles apart and that are significantly different. One has an agatized shell, one has a clay shell, and the other is a rhyolite.

TYG-GD: What does the Yachats area offer in terms of [rock hounding]?
Well, Yachats is unique itself, because it's got world-class agate hunting here in the winter time.

TYG-GD: Is it really world-class?
It is, actually. Some of the stuff that comes from here is absolutely phenomenal. The blues that we get from here are exceptional. And the fortification that you can get in some of the agates from around here... Yachats has sagenite agates, which are quite uncommon. Another one that's unique to here is called the Yachats Rose; it's like the Holy Grail of agate hunting on the beach. I actually found this one in Yachats Bay. [he shows us a white, circular, rippled formation that does indeed look like a rose; it's about 2 inches in diameter] And I'd been looking for one of these my whole life!

TYG: Wow!
And I found one in July, when we got back here.

TYG-GD: And do we have any geodes?
Yes, a few. They're quartz-filled; stuff that's going to weather out of basalt. So like a lot of the carnelian agates that you find around here, they'll have a pocket in them with a bunch of little crystals. Technically, that's a geode. There are tons of geodes in Central Oregon, like around Prineville.

TYG: So do all the fossils come from Morocco and South America as well?
No, we bring in fossils from all over the United States, but our big, big fossils are primarily from Morocco. We have one of the largest selection of fish fossils around, and those all come from Wyoming. Like this little guy right here, this is a Diplomystus, and it's 52 to 48 million years old. They were a freshwater fish.

 TYG-GD: [peering] That thing looks drawn on there!
Well, it does, but if you really get over here looking at it, you can really see the fine detail. When they fossilize, imagine it getting covered with sediment. It's still got its skin on, and then the skin kind of carbonizes over the bones, and that's what creates a lot of the black. This one is 100% natural, not touched up, but there are a lot of them that get touched up.

TYG-GD: So what's this edge here [outlining the fish]?
So, they ground this out so that they could get to the fish, so they could make the best display. If you get a perfect split—because they're splitting layers of shale to find the fish—but if you get a perfect split, then it's going to look like that one, where there's no relief—it's literally the layer. That's a Priscacara, an extremely rare fish. [another customer break]


TYG-GD: Are you going to have machines that people can use?
So, behind this wall, we just built a dinosaur dig site. The walls are inlaid with fish, and we had all kinds of fun making it look sort of rocky. I'm putting in a fluorescent room for kids, so that they'll be able to flip a switch and long wave UV will come on, and the rock wall will turn one color; and then you can flip another switch and short wave UV will come on, and it'll turn everything even a different color. It's amazing how some of these rocks are just "dud-dy" when you look at them under regular light, and then you put the UV on them and they're phenomenal. And we have fluorescents literally from all over the world, and one of the things we have here that are super-fun, especially for kids, is we have Yooperlites that come out of the upper peninsula in Michigan. They're pretty phenomenal—super-fun. You guys want to see some fluorescents?

TYG-GD: Yes, that would be great! [we go to a small room in the back where he shows us shelves of non-descript rocks that glow beautifully under a black light flashlight] So, what's your favorite piece in the whole collection?
You know, because I'm not a collector... My thing is that I like to share. So I don't have a favorite piece. My favorite thing is to share these minerals and have people walk out of here with a smile on their face. There are few things that make me happier than making other people happy. [we break for another couple of customers] So, we have a dinosaur dig site. The kids will have a six by six foot matrix. It'll be loaded full of shark teeth, crinoids, brachiopods, echinoderms, all kinds of cool fossils. There will also be the occasional real dinosaur tooth, whether it be from a mosasaur, an elasmosaur, or a crocodilian creature of some kind—there's going to be all kinds of neat stuff in there. And about one in ten, you're going to be able to get a spinosaurus tooth, or [one from] an Otodus obliquus, the ancestor of the Great White. There's going to be some really cool stuff you're going to be able to get. And we're going to be able to do it for seven bucks.

TYG: Nice!
As this remodel goes—we're fixing up the place—we're going to put in a geode break station for kids. We're going to have six different varieties of geodes that we'll either be able to cut on-site for you as you wait, or you'll be able to break them on your own with a hammer, or we'll have a chain breaker as well.

TYG-GD: What's a chain breaker?
It's basically a chain that wraps around the geode, and you pull a lever, and it cracks the geode.

TYG: Does that shatter it?
Not normally. [laughs]

TYG: I could see the hammer shattering things.
Yes, but it's about finesse, not strength, when it comes to breaking geodes. Anyway, then we're going to put in a gem-mining site; it'll have a water-wheel with a trough that comes down, and you'll be able to pan for gemstones in there as well. And then, long-term, outside we're going to have a big sandbox out there that will have cast dinosaurs under the sand, like footprints of T. Rex and all kinds of fun stuff. The kids will be able to go out there and dig it up, and play with brushes, and do true digs. And then, where the old bar used to be, I'm making that kind of an extension of my living room. We're going to put in a few great big crystals, our dinosaur is going to be in there, and there are going to be some recliners, a few tables, and it's going to be a really nice, quiet, fun area. And hopefully we'll be able to do a thing like Crystals and Cabernet, on occasion.

TYG: And you haven't seen the photo of the dinosaur yet, have you?
TYG-GD: No, I haven't! [to Marc] Are you going to have a tumbler that's for rent, or something?
We will offer cutting services for people, but I won't be tumbling for people. It's too hard to keep track of everybody's stuff. [Shows us a picture of the dinosaur he's getting, on his phone]

TYG-GD: Wow, that's impressive! How big is it—about six feet?
No, it's 12 feet tall, 17 feet long.

TYG-GD: Oh my goodness! Where is it coming from?

TYG: That's quite a move... Well, thank you for your time!
Thank you sir!

TYG-GD: I'm glad you guys are back in town.
I am too. It's really great to be home.

More fish and other fossils

Monday, September 30, 2019

The Yachats Gazette, Issue 94, October 1 2019

Click here for a printable version of Issue 94

Interview with Andrea Scharf

The Yachats Gazette spoke with Andrea Scharf, author of Saving Big Creek, a story about coastal residents versus modern development right in our back yard.

TYG: So, what got you interested in the story of this incident?
Big Creek? Well, when I moved here in 1994, I got to meet a bunch of people who were involved with it, and the campaign was about half-way through at that point. So I heard different stories. Not much was happening. The exciting part happened at the beginning, in 1980.

TYG-Graphic Design: Oh! I think we should start at the beginning!
You want to start at the beginning? [laughs] Okay! In 1980, this developer from Honolulu, who actually worked for the US Customs Service, had a wife who was from Vancouver, Washington. They drove down the coast, on vacation, looking for land. They saw a "For Sale" sign at this property in Big Creek, which is about halfway between Yachats and Florence. It's just a little creek that comes out into the ocean under one of those bridges.

TYG: I know the place.
So he bought the property. At the same time, in 1981 when he bought the property, there was a butterfly called the Oregon Silver Spot butterfly [Speyeria zerene hippolyta], and its habitat is along the salt-spray meadows. That was declared a threatened species by the Environmental Protection Agency.

TYG-GD: How big was the property?
Andrea: 186 acres.

TYG-GD: All waterfront?
No, it was actually on both sides of the river, going up this way [gestures east], and up this way [gestures north] was where he planned to build the resort.

TYG-GD: Is there a campground there now?
No, there's nothing there, and there never will be. The whole idea, when it was turned over to State Parks, was that nothing could be built, except maybe a trail. At this point, nobody's doing anything.

TYG: There's a road that goes through there.
There's a road that goes through and up to the ridge, and there are people who live further up Big Creek. It had been used by people; Native Americans had camped in this area, usually during the summer; they gathered berries and prepared for winter, and it was kind of a summer, working vacation. So there are two roads that go through the property. Settlers built property near the mouth of the river and further up, and they raised cattle—they ran cattle through this area. You've probably seen Stonefield Beach? Stonefield was the name of these brothers. There were four of them.

TYG: I always thought it was just because it was a stony field—that's one of the few ones where it actually makes perfect sense!
Nope! [laughs] They moved here from Minnesota or Michigan, and the brothers claimed homesteads. George had a homestead at Ten Mile Creek, and his brother Emil had property here [at Big Creek]. So they ran the cattle back and forth along this area. So the property was inherited and passed down to different people, and so this developer, whose name was Vic (Victor) Renaghan, bought the property. It was zoned for forest and game—elk had been hunted there, and it had been logged up on the ridges. In order to build his resort, which is what he wanted to do, he had to get a zone change.

At that time, the Lane County Planning Department had a sort of subsidiary in the west part, because it was a big county. So the West Lane Planning Commission, over about three months or so, took testimony and read materials; he brought all sorts of materials in to convince them that this was a great idea. And they turned him down. Unanimously. They flat said, "No, we're not going to change the zone on this." And all the people who were working so hard to keep this natural said, "Phew! This is great! We're okay!" Well, of course, he went to the county commissioners and appealed that ruling. And, no surprise, they overturned that ruling and gave him a zone change.

TYG-GD: Why?
Because the guy who was chair of the Board of County Commissioners represented the West Lane area, and it was economically distressed. The developer said this was going to bring jobs, tourists, it was going to be wonderful; people want to come here and have a place to stay and they don't want to camp, you know, it's going to be rich people! So they overturned it. So the people who were opposed to the resort filed an appeal with the Land Use Board of Appeals [LUBA]. All of this was very new, because Oregon had only passed a land use law in 1973.

TYG: First test of the system!
It was, it was pretty early, in 1981. Eventually, this case went all the way up to the State Supreme Court, and they overturned the ruling. They said that these people did not have a chance to present their case, because when the Board of Commissioners overturned it, there was no notice in any of the coastal newspapers, and there were no posts on the property [about future use] the way they were supposed to. So when they filed the case with LUBA, the rules were very restrictive about who could file an appeal. You had to live adjacent to the property under concern, and nobody did—it was Forest Service property. People lived up the road, and they tried to make a case, but it was pretty iffy. And LUBA said, "No, you don't have standing," which is the right to file an appeal.

TYG: That makes sense.
Well, under the rules, it did. So when it went up to the Supreme Court, they overturned that, and it opened up the process and allowed more people [to have standing]. If you attended a Planning Commission meeting, if you wrote a letter, if you indicated your interest, you had standing. So it opened up the process, even when they were writing the rules for the State Land Use Planning. That was a big debate: the League of Women Voters wanted it open; other people like Senator Atiyeh, who became the governor and was conservative, wanted it narrow. And narrow was what had won out. But this [case] opened it all up. So now when there's a land use decision, just about anybody can come in and have a say.

So, while that was going through its process, the developer began doing what he wanted to do: putting together packages for financing, and that sort of thing. So every time something happened, the opponents had to kind of gather their resources and fight it. So one of the things that happened, was that the developer decided that he would get financing from the State's Industrial Development bond system.

TYG: I'm surprised that falls under "Industrial"!
Bingo!, as people say. [laughs] That was true! So at that time there were five people on the Board of Commissioners, and the developer went to them and asked them to endorse his application. Peter DeFazio was one of the commissioners (he later became a congressman). He said, "This is not industrial! The intent was industry that would create good jobs for people—family wage jobs. This is just going to be people cleaning rooms, people doing yardwork. The building of it is only short-term construction."

TYG: It isn't industry anyway.
Exactly. Well, [the way] the law is written there are certain other things you can do. So when the opponents heard about his application, they got their resources together. But they were very clever. The developer called them "just a bunch of hippies." And, it's true, they were sort of counter-culture and they came out here. Some of them had homesteads up Big Creek and around the area. They were artisans, and people like that—it's Yachats, you know, the people who moved here. But they were not just a bunch of dope-smoking hippies. They were smart, they were educated, and their sort of leader was a guy named Tom Smith. He lived right on the corner of Ten Mile Creek Road and Highway 101. He had worked for the National Wildlife Federation and Travel Unlimited, and he was a wildlife biologist. He knew stuff, and he knew how to work with government. He was a little bit older than everyone else, so he provided leadership. So when people said, "We don't know what to do about this!" he told them, "Well, now you go and meet with this person, and that person, and these are the things you do. You file petitions, and you file appeals." So they were pretty sophisticated, and they were on it all the time, and they did not let it slide. So they got some people to go in and testify against these bonds. And the developer was furious, because he got turned down, and he said, "You just cost me millions of dollars." He tried to get the lawyer who was involved to spar, and he was getting very mad. He was getting frustrated. He really felt the whole system was against him. He was an interesting person to talk to, though. So while all this was going on, and they were trying to keep the development from happening, they were also trying to find money to buy him out. And he was doing everything he could to make the property worth as much as could. He paid—I think it was $286,000—for the property.

TYG: Wow, even for a 1980, that feels like nothing for 186 acres! How did that ever get assessed? I feel like that should be at least in the millions, even back then...
Correct! Well, it was zoned for timber, so the timber value of that property was whatever it was. Anyway, that's what he got it for. So he began doing things to create what they call a turnkey property: somebody could come in and all the permits would be done, all this stuff would be done. He didn't get a whole lot done—I think he ended up paying his lawyer to do a lot of things. But eventually, the Nature Conservancy came in and bought the property. And they paid $4,050,000.

TYG: That sounds a little more fair for that property.
He made good money. He spent quite a bit of money on fees and permits and all of that. And of course he had to pay capital gains taxes on it. And he had some individual investors, and I believe he paid them back. So he didn't become a bazillionaire, but he did okay. The Nature Conservancy bought it in 2008. The way they buy things is that they have a revolving fund, and they have to convince their Board that this is a good project. Then they loan the individual at the Portland office the money, and get grants and thing from other agencies (the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board put in almost half the money), and then they buy the property. It was very popular—part of the reason was the butterfly, which was very appealing. And that area has no development there. So the idea of having a mega-resort there—and it kept on getting bigger and bigger [in concept]...

TYG: That's what I was thinking! It seems a bit of an odd place to put a resort. I wouldn't have gone for it there.
Well, let me tell you why! [chuckles] The resorts don't make money. What makes money is the residential development around the resort. So places like Sun River, or Black Butte Ranch, which is over in eastern Oregon, are resorts, yes. There's the hotel, and restaurants, and golf courses and stuff. But then they began selling the lots to build second homes or cottages, and then gradually it becomes regular homes. And that's exactly what the state's land use laws were designed to prevent, because as is very obvious, why would you suddenly have a little residential community in the middle of nothing? It creates more traffic, it requires facilities to be put in—electric lines and all of that—and part of the reason he didn't get his industrial development bond was that people went in and said, "Look, here's the economic analysis! This resort is not going to make the kind of money that's going to justify waiving taxes." Because for industrial development bonds, people borrow money at a lower interest rate, and they get to write off whatever they gain. So if there's not enough other income being generated, it just doesn't make sense. And if people were going to work there, and live there, and have children, they need transportation like a school bus—it was just crazy.

TYG: Plus, the land around there is just awful for building anything! Even if the ground were adamant—the most stable material imaginable—the slope is awful. There's no flat pretty much, except right in the river valley.

TYG: And that's where the resort would be.
No, the resort would be on the slope, on the north side of the road. You can't build next to the river—it's a riparian zone. And in fact, one of the things he tried to do was to carve out some lots on the hillside, on the south side of the river. If you drive by there, you'll see a little road has been bulldozed out. They were going to be view lots—you could see the whole ocean. But there was no way to get to it. You couldn't go across the riparian area, and to build another bridge would be too costly, so he built that new road in. And of course for the fire department that's not going to work.

TYG: You need a real road.
You need a real road, you need a place where fire trucks can turn around. And on this side he said he was trying to build care-taker cottages. He really wanted to build a house that he could sell, then he could recoup some money, then he could build another house... When the Planning Department came to look, it was situated so it could look out at the ocean. The planner said he didn't meet the "straight face test." [laughter] And right where he thought he'd build this house was butterfly habitat.

So, Nature Conservancy bought the property in 2008. There was a financial crash and it was really hard for them to get the money to pay back their Board. It's a revolving fund, so it can be used for somebody else. So it took them until 2013 to put together all of the grants. Do you know Paul Engelmeyer? He worked for Audubon, and he does a lot of work promoting the welfare of birds and the environment and wetlands—he's an interesting person to talk to. Anyway, he was part of the opposition to this, and he also lived up in that area. He would make sure that the people at the Nature Conservancy and the Trust for Public Land knew about this property. So when the guy who did real estate acquisitions for the Trust for Public Land was hired, the first person he was told to see was Paul Engelmeyer down on the coast. And Paul gave a tour of the property, and said, "This is our number one priority." So as things finally moved along, and other options fell through—the real estate market had changed, and finances were bad, it took them much longer than they thought it would to pay back their original loan, and they couldn't transfer the property to the State Parks until it was a clear title, until they'd paid off the loan. So, in September 2013, which where I started to start, there was a celebration at Cape Perpetua to celebrate the turning over of this property to State Parks. A lot of the people I'd been hearing stories about for years were there. And of course, when they started doing this, they were young guys. They were in their twenties, maybe thirties—they were really young.

TYG: Now they're in their sixties and seventies...
So I kind of looked at them, and one of them in particular was kind of frail. I'd just quit my job marketing for the City of Yachats, because I wanted to write, and I thought, "This is my story. I want to tell this story." Because if I don't, these people are going to die off. So I began interviewing people, and I began doing some document research in the archives of the county Planning Department, and I also brought in a whole lot of other stuff like the geology of the area. You kind of talked about that. It's hard to build on, but if a tsunami hits, this area is gone. And they were going to build a nuclear power plant here once.

TYG: [stunned laughter]
TYG-GD: That was some other scheme, right?
That was a long time ago. That was the Eugene Water and Electric Board.

TYG: Even if there were no tsunami, that's a terrible place to build a power plant!
Well, in the 1960's, there was a big push to build nuclear power plants. Over twenty years, they were going to build twenty power plants from Eugene up to the Columbia River. That was what was going to save us all: we wouldn't have to use coal, we wouldn't have to use water power. You have to understand: Chernobyl hadn't happened, Three Mile Island hadn't happened, Fukishima hadn't happened—everybody thought this was the safest thing possible. [...] This proposal from the Eugene Water and Electric Board made people say, "Wait a minute! Let's look at this!" and EWEB said, "Oh no, it's fine, it's safe, we're just moving ahead." They got the people of Eugene to pass bonds to build this thing, and again, persistent activists in Eugene, some of whom who were professors in the physics department at the University of Oregon and had worked on the Manhattan Project building the atom bomb—they knew. They knew there was a problem with atomic power. So they got a moratorium to study this, and this [area around Ten Mile] was one of the sites that was being looked at. Finally, it was the one that EWEB chose because who cares! It's out there, and there's nobody there in 1969!

TYG: It just boggles the mind.
Wait, it gets better... Because you know, when you create a hydro dam, there's usually a lake that's created, and there's recreation: camping, and fishing, and it supports the community around it. They wanted to do the same thing here! So the cooling lake was going to be a beautiful place for people to fish, and boat... I mean, this is radioactive water! [laughs in disbelief] And, it's on the subduction zone. [...] The activists finally put a stop to it and it was voted down, and then the state of Oregon, two years later, voted on a moratorium: there would never be nuclear power plants. [...] So, that's what happened. The property got turned over to State Parks, and it will be protected in perpetuity, and all the people got older, maybe wiser, and that's the book I wrote!

TYG: That's awesome!
TYG-GD: So, in terms of your dream of writing, are you fulfilled, or are you onto your next story?
Well, I'm still working on marketing this. I'm doing a memoir workshop in October. But I don't know what I'm going to do next. Part of the reason I'm doing the memoir workshop is that I would like to write a book about my father, who was a compulsive gambler. But there was a secret about him in the family, something that happened when he was young. Nobody would tell me about it. I remember asking my aunt, one of his sisters, and she said she'd written a paper about him when she was getting her Master's in Education. So it had to be a juvenile thing, because she was teaching young people. And I said, "Well, can I read it?" "Oh no, you're much too young," she said. I was thirty. [laughs] So nobody would tell me. His younger brother, when I asked, he said, "Oh, there's nothing to tell. I don't want to ruin your memory of your father." Trying to get the information is really hard! If he was a juvenile, there won't even be court records if it was a crime. I have no idea! No idea what he did. So I thought about doing a fictional memoir about him. But I've got about four other novels that I've been working on, but I can't decide which one I want to pursue. This book just came out last November, so I think it's going to be around the year mark until I feel I'm done with it.

TYG-GD: How did you get into writing?
Oh gosh, I've been writing since I was five years old. When I was little, we had to go to a birthday party dressed as what you want to be when you grow up, and I had this little shirt and shorts made of newspaper print, and I had my little camera with me...[laughs] [to the Publisher:] See, I was going to be just like you.

TYG: [laughs] Except I'm dropping this.
Yes? Are you? Are you going to retire?

TYG: Yes, I'm dropping it at Issue 100. Because I need to go off to college!
Yes, you do.

TYG: I'm going off to college in the fall of 2020, to OSU, engineering program.
Very good. Well, you've done a terrific job on this. I still remember when you first started, and you had your briefcase... it was so great! And people love it! You should try to sell it—maybe somebody else will want to take it over.

TYG: I don't want to sell it! That's the thing—I want it to be done at Issue 100. That way, no one can mess up its legacy.
Well, you've done a great job on it. So anyway, I've been writing ever since. I had one short story published when I was in high school, I think, in Ingénue Magazine—it was kind of like Seventeen. Then I did free-lance journalism, and I wrote about the coal and oil industry, because I was living in Pennsylvania and that's kind of what there was. That was interesting—I met a lot of really interesting people. A Greek shipping magnate—I met him in New York. I don't know—I like writing about different businesses because I like talking to people. And for a while I was working for the Mid-Coast Watersheds Council and writing about salmon restoration projects. I put together a newsletter for them for a year or so. And then when I was the marketing director [for Yachats] I wrote blurbs, or for Travel Oregon—they try to make things very personal, so I would write articles as if I were a tourist, like doing birding up on the Alsea Bay in Waldport, stuff like that. It was fun! So that's what I do!

TYG: Thank you very much—it's been an awesome interview!
Thank you!

Andrea Scharf will lead a workshop on Memoir Writing at her home in the Yachats River Valley on Saturday October 12, 2019, from 9 to 4:30. The workshop is limited to ten people in order to provide individual guidance, and is appropriate for all ages and levels of writing ability. Lunch is included, with beverages and healthy snacks throughout the day. Cost to attend the one-day workshop is $125. Contact Andrea at 541-547-3092 or

Community Events:

Now in its third year, the Yachats Banner project will hold their annual auction and  artist celebration October 5, 5 PM – 7 PM in the Yachats Commons.
Each spring local artists volunteer to design and paint banners.  This year's theme is “Where Edges Meet.” Banners are displayed along Hwy. 101 from June through September. On the first Saturday of October, they are auctioned off to support arts programs and fund the project for the following year. This year’s auction will be held on October 5th from 5 until 7 in the Commons Building in Yachats. Visit the banner auction and view the banners up close. You just may find yourself bidding for one of these beauties. For more information visit

Saturday, August 31, 2019

The Yachats Gazette, Issue 93, September 1 2019

 Click here for a printable copy of Issue 93

Interview with Frank Male and Kathy McCulloch of Midtown Guitar Company


TYG: So, how did you guys come to Yachats?
Well, we were in the Bay Area and we'd been looking for a place to retire. We were originally looking in Nye Beach. We discovered Yachats, and we decided to retire here and bring in a music store.
TYG: So what got you guys into guitars?
I've been playing music most of my life, so it kind of goes from there...
TYG: How did you end up getting a store and an inventory like this? There are beautiful pieces in here.
Well, the inventory you just buy. But yeah, I like to buy guitars, and I had a number of guitars at home, and an opportunity to start a store in Aptos, California. We were fairly successful from the day we opened, and we did that for five or six years. We then opened one in Santa Cruz, and had an opportunity to dispose of that one, so we sold our property that we had there and came up here.
TYG-Editorial Assistant: Do you still have the shop in Aptos?
No, that's closed as well.
Kathy: We had that one for four years, and then one in Santa Cruz for two. And then we took all the best stuff, that we liked the best, from the one in Santa Cruz that we had moved to, and we brought it up here. And we sold that one in Santa Cruz. Then we got a 16-foot truck, got everything in there, including the neon [signs], and we brought ourselves and the guitars up here, where we had bought a house two years prior and vacation-rentalled it.
TYG-EA: How did you find this little corner of the world? It's not a major feature on most maps...
Our realtor! In Nye Beach we kept getting our houses bought out from under us, so he told us he liked Yachats, and every time he came down here, everybody was always happy down here. He grew up in Waldport. So we came down here, and we got lucky! We got a house.
Frank: Yachats is actually quite well known.
Kathy: Yeah! In Europe, in the subway, they have a moving sign—his son saw it!
Frank: In Heathrow Airport!
TYG: In England? That's amazing! Considering it got onto Frommer's top ten travel destinations, surpassing London and Paris! 
TYG-EA: Well, Paris was on there, but London didn't make the cut.

Frank: They have their great histories and all that, but they've turned into big cities.
Kathy: I like it that you can walk everywhere.
Frank: I don't know how long it will last, but we have a community with no police department, no stop light, no bank, no gas station for eight miles, and I don't like any of those things. We have no traffic, but it's giving me a place. It's one of those few places in the world that's kind of on the way up, and it seems like everywhere else is on the way down. So we're lucky; we're able to do what we're doing, and we plan to just make this into a kind of destination with music—I don't know how many guitars we'll sell here. Most people are tourists and just want to look at them. Most of our business has gone online through a site called Reverb. So if I actually get serious about selling guitars, most of the guitars will go on a UPS truck out of here.
Kathy: Which we did down in Santa Cruz too. It's pretty exciting to come in in the morning and some $3,500 or $2,500 guitar has sold.
Frank: Most of the money is spent shipping it out.
Kathy: Yes! So once you ship it out you get the money. It has its ups and downs.
Frank: But the business model, to me, is lifeless. There's no music in it; the guitars come in a box, and they go out in a box.
Kathy: And [the customers] want them untouched.
Frank: Yeah, you don't get to hang out with them or whatever.
TYG-EA: This is a place where things are personal.
Yes, you can pick one up, and we enjoy the people. We've sold a few instruments.
Kathy: We sold a PRS.
Frank: Nobody knows who PRS is.
Kathy: So, Paul Reed Smith has just started making acoustic guitars. A local person, who was really waiting for us to open, we had it because our rep had just been in. So we showed him some other stuff, and then that guitar, and he bought it. Same day. And that same day we sold three ukuleles, too.
TYG: What drew you to this location, this store I mean?
Well, this property became open.
TYG-EA: I hear it's been a lot of work.
It has—we've been here for a year.
TYG: I remember this place when it was still a wine shop, but it certainly didn't look like this.
There was a lot of stuff that was pretty rotten that we fixed up.
Kathy: We had to replace the roof.
Frank: It's been a good project.
TYG-EA: You guys did the work yourselves?
Well, we had some people help us along the way. It's had its moments. It's pretty good now that most of the work is done.
Kathy: He was going back and forth by train a lot, and I was running the store in Santa Cruz. At one point, when there was snow this past winter, he got stuck on the train—I don't know if you heard that story.
TYG: You were on that train! Oh!
It got turned around. It was upsetting—they didn't have food.
Frank: It was bad. But anyway, we got the building, we fixed it up, and now we're open.
TYG-EA: What's to become of the two little buildings?
They're rented.
Frank: So, we'll have an amphitheater out here, and there will be music, and I think it's going to be a cool place! Eventually we're going to put a caboose out in back.
TYG: A railroad caboose?
TYG: That'll be cool!
: Alright guys, thank you so much!
TYG: Thanks for your time!

Thursday, August 1, 2019

The Yachats Gazette, Issue 92, August 1 2019

Click here for a printable version of Issue 92

Interview With Lama Phurbu Tashi Rinpoche

The Yachats Gazette was invited to interview the Lama Phurbu Tashi at the beginning of July; he was a speaker at the Little Log Church in Yachats.

TYG: Can we get your full name for the record?
Oh yes, my personal name is Phurbu Tashi. Some people call me Lama, and Rinpoche is kind of a title, so Lama Phurbu Tashi Rinpoche becomes kind of long. Sometimes people call me Lama Phurbu. Sometimes I make it easier for people: LPTR. [laughter]

TYG-Graphic Design: What part is your family name—is it Phurbu?
No, there is no family name.

TYG-GD: Did you change names when you were growing up?
No, I did not. Phurbu Tashi was given by my mother. I was born on Thursday—Phurbu is Thursday. Tashi is "auspicious." So "Auspicious Thursday."

TYG: So, to begin with... how did you feel when you discovered you were the reincarnation [of Tsatsa Khenpo Thubten]?
Oh! At that time, I was very young, compared to now! [laughs] At age 12 or 13 I went to a monastery. Some senior monks came to my home, and they were talking to my parents. I had some strange and curious thoughts in my head, before they recognized me as a reincarnation. I was wondering about questions like, "How am I here?" and "Who am I?"—those thoughts were in my head. And then they told my parents that I was a reincarnation of someone. So I became really interested to find out, and so I got interested to study Buddhist philosophy. I'm not a reincarnation of a very important or high-[ranking], highly respected sort of person. I myself have had no remembering of previous lives or anything like that. But when I was little, one thing that makes a little bit of sense to me is that when I went to regular school, I had quite a lot of difficulties with the studies. But when I was switched to the monastery, I almost felt like I was familiar with these studies. And I always got first prize.

TYG-GD: What kind of things did you study in regular school? Did you grow up in Tibet?
Yes. In regular school, we learned Chinese language, mathematics, history, and things like that. And in the monastery, they teach Buddhist philosophy and the Tibetan language. We also memorized a lot of the philosophical texts—and it was easy for me.

TYG-GD: Allen, have you done much memorizing in school?
TYG: Not as much as I really should!
Yes, study is endless, it's never enough... [laughter]

TYG: Fortunately we now have calculators to circumvent a lot of it!
Right—and we don't have to practice hand-writing, right? Using computers, perhaps many people don't know how to write! [laughs]

TYG: I think people still know how to write, here. I'm not sure if I have kids, though, what it will be like then. Because it is changing. I sincerely hope so! I've done a little calligraphy, and I love it.
When we were children, we had to practice how to write.

TYG-GD: With a paintbrush, or a pen?
A different kind of pen, yes. Bamboo, and then you cut it this way and this way, and then ink.

TYG: So how did you end up in Annapolis?
I was in India for a long time, and from India I got invited to visit some US people in New York. Then I decided to go visit some other places, and I went to Maryland. I didn't know anything about any parts of the US, but I thought I would choose some names of places in the States, and "Maryland" sound[ed] like a really nice place. [laughter] And also it was not too far, it was close to New York. So I went to Maryland, and then I met some people—the same like here, it's my first day in Yachats, the first time I'm visiting here, and already I've met many nice people! [laughs] So the same thing happened in Annapolis; people asked me to teach meditation. I went back to New York, but they asked me to come back, so I went back. I did some regular teaching to a group of psychologists and counselors, and [I still do]. I realized it had been 11 years! I didn't really plan it that way! [laughs] 

TYG-GD: So, can you tell us more about how you moved from Tibet to India?
Oh! About 50, 60 years ago, there was a Chinese communist revolution, and many of the graduate teachers escaped and ran away from that crisis, and went to India. So they stayed in India, and when I was a child, I heard that in India was a great place to study the teachings of the Buddha, and lots of great teachers had stayed there. So, for that reason, when I was a child, it was very difficult to travel from China to any other country, and especially if you were Tibetan, it was more difficult—there are more restrictions on monks, for political reasons. So I had to escape through the Himalayan mountains; I walked to Nepal. It took 15 days.

TYG-GD: Wow! By yourself?
LPTR: With a group of people.

TYG-GD: Wow. And how old were you when you did that?
18. I went to India to study, for personal reasons—I didn't have any problem with the government. I just went there for studies, and I did not have to ask for permission from my parents or the monastery—I just went. Took off by myself. [laughs] I didn't even tell them—I thought they would worry about me. I only told them when I was already in India.

TYG-GD: So how long did you stay in India?
I think about 17 or 18 years.

TYG-GD: Wow... So how many more languages did you speak after India?
I speak mainly my first language, which is Tibetan, and then I studied English in India. And then I speak a little bit of Hindi, Nepali, and a little bit of Mandarin Chinese. But those languages are not because I'm smart, but because they were necessary. People don't understand my language, so I have to speak theirs.

TYG-GD: I'm from Switzerland, and I grew up in the French-speaking part, but Switzerland has four national languages.
Yes, I know very well over there! Actually, the first Western country I visited was Switzerland! Around 1996 or so—a long time ago.

TYG-GD: Wow, where did you go?
: Lausanne!

TYG-GD: I'm from Nyon, which is between Genève and Lausanne...
Oh, this is such a nice place, wow! A few years ago I went there, and we took a boat to the other side... Evian.

TYG-GD: Evian! Was it a paddle-wheel boat?
Yes! And the famous water comes from there. Oh, Lausanne... I went to visit at least five times, the Geneva-Lausanne area. This is a very nice place, beautiful.

TYG-GD: I agree.
TYG: So, how come Switzerland first?
Well, when I was in the monastery—the monastery usually provides education, and food, but there is also some money from supporters, or sponsors. When I was in the monastery, I got a sponsor from Switzerland—somebody found a sponsor for me to continue my monastery studies, and a little bit of money that I could use for buying soap, a toothbrush, things like that, necessary things. So this Swiss couple, Jean and Céline, they sponsored me for several years in the monastery college. And then one time they invited me to visit them. That's why I went to Switzerland. Until now they were very close, and I went to visit them quite often.

TYG-GD: Do you speak French with them?
LPTR: [laughs]
No, we speak in English! I went to France a couple of times for teaching. The French people, sometimes they say that the Swiss people speak slowly, and drive slowly...

TYG-GD: Switzerland is "the South." If you put it in terms of the United States, Switzerland is like the South of the United States: it's where the farmers are, and they're all less educated—which is not true! But that's what they say. [laughs]
TYG: That's the thing about stereotypes!
LPTR: [laughs]
I noticed something about French people, the way they speak, the way they drive: fast! They drive fast, they speak fast... the Swiss are a little more slow! [...]

TYG-GD: So, you went to India... was it from your monastery in India that you came to the United States, or did you go through some more steps?
I came here by myself, not through the monastery. I came for a visit, then I stayed here—longer than a visit. [laughter]

TYG-GD: Did you have to get a visa for it?
LPTR: Yes, yes! There was quite a lot of paperwork.

TYG-GD: Are you glad you stayed?
Yes, I think so. [laughs] You know, in life we always have choices. We choose one, and then we should be glad, happy about what we choose, right? But if we didn't choose this one, what would have happened? 

TYG-GD: It's cost-benefit analysis.
If I hadn't stayed, I don't know what would have happened. I would be somewhere else, maybe doing something else... [laughs] Could be better, or worse. After I finished my studies and my training in India, I traveled—I went to Switzerland, France, for teaching. I tried to help people by sharing my studies and practices. And then in Indonesia, I had some followers there. I quite often went to visit there, for teaching. So half of the year I'm in Annapolis, and every six months I'm in Indonesia (Jakarta).

TYG: So what's Indonesia like?
Indonesia is a tropical country, it's very hot. It's beautiful there, with lots of islands, and clean, like Bali. A wonderful beach with big waves and a clean ocean. Lots of tourists. And a majority of people there practice Islam. But they also have Christians, Hinduism, Buddhists, and Confuscianism.

TYG-GD: So, you teach meditation?
Yes, I teach Buddhist philosophy and meditation.

TYG-GD: How does that work?
So, in order to practice meditation, they have to have some kind of a goal to achieve, and some kind of method, or technique how to practice, or how to meditate. All that comes from the teachings of Buddha, that's why I call it Buddhist philosophy. So they're taught methods, and the way to practice meditation, and why you practice meditation, and how to practice meditation, and how it works. And all this is based on the teachings of Buddha. 

TYG-GD: So why did Buddha meditate?
So, uhm... [laughs]

TYG-GD: I'm sorry, was that too big a question? [laughs]
TYG: Talk about the edges of philosophy, and all of a sudden cannon ball right into the middle... [laughter]
They made a good movie in India about Buddha's life; it's called "Buddha: Rajaon ka Raja," and it's on Netflix. It explains the basics, but it's really long, like 50 episodes. It's quite interesting, but anyway, in the show the answer for your question is, according to Buddha, this life is not our only lifetime. We have a physical aspect, but also a mental aspect. So the physical aspect, when we die, goes back to the "mother" element. It doesn't become nothing. So the physical elements dissolve. But the mind is also there, and it cannot become nothing, but it cannot [either] become a permanent [object]. So its existence as a "mind stream" continues, and it's then another life. It gets reborn as another life. And it came from previous lifetimes. But your own mind, everybody's mind, has an ultimate, true nature; it's not that it was created, but it is primordially pure. It has enlightenment nature, it has lasting happiness and peace, and great qualities; it doesn't have to be suffering and confused and things like that. Its nature is enlightenment. But we fail to recognize our own, true, ultimate nature, and then we fall into duality, into illusion. Then we experience getting born, getting old, and dying, and then reborn again, and going through lots of suffering. So in order to be free from that kind of suffering, then you not only meditate, but do good things: be virtuous, doing kindness, being loving, compassionate, being pure morally, being generous, and so on, doing good things. And meditate. Through meditation you recognize your immanent true nature. Only then can you become an enlightened one, or become a Buddha. You've reached lasting happiness and you never go through the suffering of being born and getting old again. Never again. That's why you meditate.

TYG-GD: But why is the mind attracted to being born again? I would think the mind would just be pure by itself. Why does it bother coming back?
Oh, that's an interesting, good question. Oh, okay, how to make it easier? So the mind that is ignorant, or deluded, doesn't purify by itself. It goes on and on. A previous lifetime is just like yesterday. This lifetime is like today. What we are tomorrow is kind of similar to what we are today. Tonight, there's no big change. It's kind of continuous.

TYG-GD: Okay, I see. It's a gradual refinement.
It's kind of like a river. That's why they call the mind a "stream." Usually we think that the mind is one, substantial, thing. But it's not one thing—it's a continuation. So it's called a mind stream, and it's like a river. So that "right now" is deluded, and when we die, it's impossible to just suddenly be pure and free. So that's why we continue and have to gradually purify. But if we don't do anything, it's still continuous. Anybody has the possibility to get enlightened, anybody, including all sentient beings. But that doesn't mean that they will become enlightened spontaneously. There has to be an effort to make it happen.

TYG-GD: [...] How does Buddhism incorporate modern scientific discoveries?
I think that modern scientific discoveries make Buddhist teachings easier to understand. Without modern science, it's very difficult to describe Buddhist concepts. Psychologists and quantum physics are theories that make it much easier to understand Buddhist teachings. My understanding is that Buddhist teachings go way beyond where science still is. Science is physics, and physics is still understanding based on measurements at the physical level. But Buddhist teachings go beyond the physical level. And the mind [perception] is also based on the physical level. The brain creates the mind, right? In Buddhism, the essence of the physical is the mind. Like a dream. You fall asleep and you dream, and then everything you observe and you see: your friends, your neighbors, your house, your planet Earth—all that is just in your dream, and that dream is created by your mind. There are some differences, but in short, I think modern science makes Buddhist teachings a lot easier to study. Like when Buddha explains the sky, and space, which is infinite; and there are infinite beings, and infinite realms—I think a thousand years ago, people were confused about what we were talking about. [laughter] And also when Buddha explains about the mind, and how there are many levels, and how to cultivate or train your mind; it's easier now when there is a culture of psychology. I don't think it's the same, but it makes it easier to understand Buddhist teachings.

TYG: I wonder what aspect of it causes things like autism? I'm mildly autistic, and I wonder how these things get added to the mix of the souls—I don't know whether that's the correct term.
Buddhism also talks about the law of causes and conditions, how in life there are actions that cause conditions. But that doesn't mean something that cannot change. The causes that karma brought can be improved and changed. In Buddha's teaching, for any kind of life-form there's no perfect or really satisfied life. The life-forms are brought by karma, which means cause and effect.

TYG-GD: So what you did in your last life, you pay for in this life?
I don't think it's "pay," or not some kind of punishment. If I touch my finger to the fire, it will burn. It's not that I'm paying, or being punished; it's cause and what happens, fire and burn. So karma is the law of cause and effect, similar to gravity; it's not that people can believe or not believe—it's just a strong law that naturally applies. If people don't believe gravity, I don't think gravity cares! [laughter]  So in Tibetan tradition, if we have good things, then we appreciate good karma, and are also encouraged to do more good karma. And if we have difficulties, then we are not discouraged, but we also recognize it. So we have probably done bad karma, so then we do good things to try and purify, to get better and improve. That is a tradition.

TYG-GD: That sounds like a tradition that a lot of people try for. I think most people try to do better in their life...
But according to Buddhist teachings, if we want to have a meaningful or lasting happiness, a satisfying happiness, we have to achieve enlightenment. There is no other way; there is no perfect life-form. There are always problems: poor people have problems, rich people have problems, old people have problems, young people have problems, men have problems, women have problems. [laughter]

TYG-GD: But if you're perfect, then you are no longer attached to the flesh?
No, even perfect people have problems! [laughter]

TYG: Yes, that's what I was going to say! Perfect people have loads of problems—there's nothing left to strive for, for one thing! "Perfect" is the classic thing that you reach for, and you think "Oh, it's going to be so amazing!" and then once you're perfect, you think, "Wait a minute! There's nothing left for me to do!" Should I then make myself not perfect to be able to go back to perfect, or what? [laughter]
Okay, thank you for your interview!
TYG: Thank you very much Sir, it was very interesting!