Monthly Archives: July 2012

The Sea, The Bear, and the Jay

image by Emille Domschot © 2012

You were a young mom, then, but as much an old crone as you were in childhood. You lived in a strange town, an empty, rain-gray place painted blue at the edges. You scuffed behind your family through the sand that edged up to broken sidewalks. Behind you, the gray waves softened their approach to earth. They soothed and caressed, rather than raging and stealing everything in sight to carry back to the belly of open sea. The waves seemed to sigh, “Sh, sh. She’s still asleep, don’t wake her.”

In itself, this was disturbing, though you couldn’t determine when the flow had changed. So you joined it, in last place, behind a bear of a man at the head and a row of stair step children who wore faded jeans washed out by the gray and blue air. You looked down, and you followed their scuffed white sneakers, off-brands all. Collectively, the children declared they were hungry, but they made their appeal to the bear at the front and not to you. In fact, the children didn’t acknowledge you at all. Were you there with them? You looked back at the sea, and its edges faded. When you directed your gaze forward again, the bear-man held a door open for you, and you entered into the foyer of a restaurant. You weren’t invisible to him; he wore a gentle smile that expressed his deep understanding of your soul. As you brushed past him, he tried to gaze into your eyes, but you dodged him because the connection felt too intimate for a public place, more obscene than anything that could occur behind closed doors.

The dining area had a broad empty floor of blue tiles, and it triggered a deep memory in you of how fast food restaurants used to appear before the common days of chemical substances and bad oil. Back then, in that fictitious time of memory, fast food providers were family-happy. Their food was simple, soft bread and grilled meat coated in chopped onion and pickle relish. In those days, fast food nourished the body and soul in steamy booths. You didn’t like to be tricked this way, but how could you protest? The children–your children–needed sustenance and ice-clicking drinks sucked through colored straws. They needed hydration, and the bear pulled out his billfold and paid for it, and you said nothing. You tasted the yeasty bread and savored the pickles, while the brightness of the drink awakened your senses. This was the memory–this was it! This was nostalgia in a red booth bolted to a blue floor.

After eating, the children ran outside in the gray-blue air, and you could see them tagging each other in the lot. The bear waited for you, his large hand holding the door, and then he led you out, back to the car so the children could fetch their roller skates. They exchanged their white sneakers for the old-fashioned kind of four-wheeled skates, and you reluctantly did the same. Then they formed a chain like a conga line, each small set of hands on the blue windbreaker of the one in front. You counted them: one rugged man-bear and four children of indeterminate age and sex, too skinny in their faded pants and old skates. How could the children of this burly man be so insubstantial? He resembled the weight of earth, and his hair was wild and dark. In comparison, the children were wisps. They were wind, hair so white-blonde their heads disappeared into the edges, much like the soft sea.

“Aren’t you going to join us?” The man yelled, his voice as growly as a bear’s.

These were your children. Yours. And they ching-chinged away from you. You didn’t want to skate on such an uneven sidewalk that buckled and cracked as this one did, but you grabbed for the tiny waist of the child at the end, and you capped off the line. This exhilarated you. You were a part of something. You were complete, your own four children between you and the solidly human bear-man at the front. You had five children–count them again. One, two, three, four. Panic clenched in your side, in the same spot where cold air and exercise and fast food stabbed you. Panic clenched you because you knew with certainty that you had five children, and where was the fifth? Had you left the fifth back at the house? Was this unnamed child alone in the sand? Would the deceitful waves grab for it and pull it away for the sea to eat?

No, no. The child was following behind you. You could feel it. The child was a bright blue jay with wings spread and tail feathers fanned into a blue arc, and it flew at your back. It followed in your wake, desperately trying to catch up to you. You dropped the thin waist in front of you and halted, which caused the children to fall backwards in a reverse domino, laughing all the while and banging you with their bony elbows. You fell down with them, feeling as if you were, after all, a bruised mother. The dark man lent you his hand, and when he pulled you up, you teetered against him, and your physical presence together with his startled you with its heaviness. Was it possible for a solid man to desire an old crone such as yourself? It seemed unlikely to you–you were spirit and soul, and he was body–an unlikely match.

But where did your missing child go? You spun around as best you could on dinged-up wheels because you caught a flutter of its brilliant feathers. You reached for your child-bird, and its life dropped from it as a kite drops without wind to bear it aloft. It dropped, a skeleton lacking bright feathers. It crashed, head first, to the buckled walk. You reached for it, even though you couldn’t salvage it. You cried and nobody cared. Your family screeched and skated off. At the head, the bear-man beckoned for you to continue. You’ll miss out, he called to you. You’ll miss all the fun!


Memoirs From a Nineties Coffee Girl: Good coffee, Bitter Patriarchy Part II

Oregon is a libertarian state. As such, conservatives and liberals alike tend either toward a live and let live mentality or, conversely, an allow me to live as I see fit world view. Although both of these perspectives stem from the enlightenment ideal of individual freedom, they don’t mesh, and it doesn’t take a genius to parse one from the other. One is generous, while the other is self-protective. One is settled in itself, the other reactionary. And, for the record, neither is a perfect philosophy, for the good reason that certain situations call for reactionary positions and others call for hunkering down and living at peace with ones’ neighbors.

As for my libertarian ways, I’m a distant observer of the world and hold to both positions simultaneously [which is probably just a description of passive aggression]. Instead of finding myself persuaded by others’ convictions, I’m almost impervious to outside instruction. I believe nothing and everything at the same time. I’m a collector of information. I collate it, I keep it, and I’m hesitant to extrapolate answers from the information stored inside my databases. I thank God for the faith he planted in my heart because if it weren’t for the gospel of Jesus Christ, which came to me outside the information channels, I’d be a skeptic who believes in nothing. And I’m thankful, as well, for the tipping point, that crucial moment when the information overloads me and I must shut down or declare a theoretical premise.

Recently, I’ve reached that tipping point regarding biblical patriarchy. But I need to reach into the past, where the concept first confronted me. The Southern Oregon Libertarian thinkers who held to biblical patriarchy tended toward the allow me to live as I see fit philosophy due to their ideas not fitting with societal ones. Because of the egalitarian nature of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, the racism and patriarchy of the founding fathers became untenable in our society. The civil rights movement lifted its hidden wings, ready to take flight, the air of our country tense with waiting. Women and black people fought for the right to vote and won. They fought for entrance into white male institutions and won.

Don’t spout the obvious and tell me equality is a lie. Of course it’s a lie. People aren’t equal–some are born short, some tall; some are born with great intellect, while others are not–but under the eyes of the law, equality is essential. And God, the author of our differences, agrees: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). I doubt anyone holding to biblical patriarchy would disagree that both men and women should have equal access to justice under the law, and equal access to salvation through Jesus. However, my first flavor of it, in the Medford Coffee Company, served up some unhealthy doses of misogyny and racism as payment for progressive espressos and dark-roasted brews [disclaimer: the cafe owners didn’t hold such beliefs! Some of their customers did].

These customers ripped scriptures from their biblical contexts and used them to create vast doctrines supporting the superiority of white men. Men were created in the image of God–not women. Blacks were relegated to an even further degradation as beasts in the field, not of the same species as whites. If you think I’m making this up–if you believe I’m simply forwarding a negative stereotype of white men, I’ll offer no defense. The evidence is out there. Study the Christian Identity movement, which was a predominant affiliation among these people. And, frankly, many Southern Oregonians in those days stereotyped themselves–no need for me to do that for them. Amid the pine forests and on property along the winding Applegate River, they stored guns, ammo, and foodstuffs in barrels for the coming apocalypse. Before rambling into Medford for their daily coffee, they made deals at surplus stores and shopped for good prices on bags of beans and rice–not for their wives to cook up for them that day, but for their wives to cook up over an open fire once the beast system took over.

The biblical patriarchy movement doesn’t follow one denomination, which means, of course, not all of them cling to Christian Identity. During the years I smelled its bitter odor, I ran across a variety of Christian belief structures. When home-educators traded the Pearls’ books and newsletters around as though they were holy tracts, I found an entirely new doctrine, one that doesn’t espouse original sin. When Douglas Wilson’s and Vision Forum books wormed their way into my life, I discovered a Reformed doctrine that unsettled me with its weird dichotomies of either/or. Either you buy their beliefs, or you’re a raging-feminist-liberal in rebellion against God’s divine order.

As I already stated, all of this stored information has reached its tipping point. In the nineties coffee house, when a burly biker declared that blacks were animals without souls–in front of a black customer–I desired to fade into the muddied linoleum below my feet. After all, I was a young female, and who would listen to my protestations? But I’m ready, after all these years, after the subject of biblical patriarchy perpetually pops up as though it were a hydra with heads in multiple denominations, to declare myself done with it. I never believed in it, due to my impenetrable nature, but I’m ready to be done with it psychologically and intellectually. No longer will I hold onto the reams of information I’ve stored about it. I’m letting it all slip away.

You see, these people have stunted their growth. They desire for men and women alike to remain in an immature state, in which women must be perpetually erotic to men, as well as dependent on them. The men don’t grow because they feed off the service of women. The women don’t grow because they’re dependent on men. And this fixation continues until death do them part, or until the families split apart, or until the men and women come to their senses and confront their distorted biblical doctrines.

What are these people afraid of? Are they afraid of growth? I’m not. I have been in the past, hence the stockpiling of information. But right now, I’m not. However, I’m still stuck with a simultaneous desire to react and hunker down and let the world be. I’m not afraid of growth. I just don’t know how to make it happen.


Memoirs From a Nineties Coffee Girl: Good Coffee, Bitter Patriarchy

For my lifestyle as a stay-at-home mom of four, I’m a frequent resident in hotels. Sometimes, these stays belong to me—they exist as my personal getaways. And occasionally, they belong to the family as vacations. But most of the time, they’re my husband’s, and I’m simply along for the ride. This following after a man and his career has never appealed to me. So instead of viewing these trips as such, I see them as blessings from God or husband or both, spun along the circuitous gift route, for the production of my own work.

I fall into slumps when I’m not actively producing something of worldly value, and by this, I mean my own academic work that extends beyond the family unit. I don’t define “something of worldly value” as the motherly goods I produce, which include meals and what might spring from my garden by accident because I’ve committed acts of mass herbicide through negligence. Neither do I mean stacks of clean, folded laundry, a tidy house smelling of pine oil, or well-educated children.

On the contrary, all of these parental activities bear intrinsic value and give their own rewards in a karmic give-and-receive effect. Because I believe in a Christian version of karma, I’ll relabel it the golden-rule effect. I’m generous to you, and you’re generous to me. I cook for you; you wash the car for me. I wash the dishes for you; you weed the garden for me. And, in fact, this division of labor among a family unit has a circular shape to it, hence my use of eastern terminologies to describe it. Westerners have their Venn diagrams, but I’m not certain a Venn diagram would fully represent the concept. Perhaps a figure eight, or the symbol of eternity would depict this ideal in a better way. Or maybe a series of connected loops in a circular form would do it justice.

At the moment, I’m considering these shapes and ideas in a Starbucks, which happened to be the first cafe I ran across while wandering away from my latest hotel stay. Coffee is an integral part of my creative life, and, although Starbucks would have been verboten in the decade of the Nineties Coffee Girl, I’ll drink any coffee here in New Mexico as long as it’s strong and black. Currently, the Starbucks’ radio channel is directing my mood by playing Janis Joplin’s Me and Bobby Magee. As you may know, at the apex of this song, Joplin sings, “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose. Nothing—and that’s all that Bobby left me.” As you probably don’t know, I used to sing these lyrics all the time. Some ballads connect to my soul in indescribable ways. This is the purpose of poetry, after all—describing the indescribable.

Freedom is an elusive concept. As a housewife, as a Christian woman, as a homeschool mom, and as a longtime citizen of Oregon, I’ve experienced a counterculture you may not have had to confront in your own path to self-development. It’s called Biblical Patriarchy. Although many Christian leaders support this movement, their views on female roles may differ in application. For the sake of this writing, I’ll give you the basic tenets: females aren’t exactly subhuman, but they weren’t created in the image of God as men were. Rather, God created woman to be man’s helpmeet, period. Therefore, she must always be under male authority—either her father’s or her husband’s. Her vision must reflect her male authority’s vision because having her own is selfishness.

By extension of these beliefs, women in the movement are discouraged from voting because their sphere is in the home and not in the world, and voting could also permit women to hold their own opinions apart from their fathers/husbands. Women aren’t worthy of opinions due to being weaker vessels, which isn’t simply interpreted as of smaller stature, but extends to the belief that women have weaker intellects. University is—no surprises here—frowned upon for women. Careers outside the home are strictly forbidden. Many other rules apply: women aren’t allowed to speak in gatherings where men are present; women must be happy child-bearers and forgo birth control. I would add direct quotes from the horses’ mouths and, trust me, I’ve run across some excruciating ones. But I squirm at using others’ words in order to generate controversy (click the links and judge for yourself: Douglas Wilson, Doug Phillips, the Pearls, or the Botkins).*

Here I sit, defying patriarchy, pursuing my own career, while my husband pursues his. As I drink from a liberal coffeepot, I remember serving trays of espresso at Medford Coffee Company–a decidedly more conservative place–and listening to the conversations of the Biblical Patriarchalists who patronized the shop. I don’t wish to dredge up these peoples’ pain, and I won’t do that, except to say that their philosophy didn’t work out for them. The ironies of each particular family has worked its way into the light.

As I see it, the problem with westerners taking on a philosophy of absolute male authority and female subservience is one of using a faulty, non-circular model. In a western patriarchal vision, a pastor might draw a line between the man and his relationship to the world and a line between a woman and her relationship to man. The western model also frequently uses a pyramidal structure to denote levels of leadership, with one authority on top of another, until you drop to the rabble at the base. These models limit truth and create oppression. Leadership and helpfulness should be circular. One begets the other in a cyclical fashion defined by do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If you’re a man in authority over a woman, this means you must consider whether you would desire to have your own authority figure–your employer, perhaps–remove your personhood from you. When you’re done with work for the day, would you desire that your boss insist you continue to view the world through his vision, his needs, his desires?

As for gender roles, you won’t find much information on those in the Bible, only cultural models that don’t rise to the level of commandment. That’s a blessing because rigid gender roles aren’t practical in an imperfect world. And so, I continue to produce my own work. I direct them outside myself and sometimes, due to my western mindset, I wonder if my arrows are hitting the mark. Then I remind myself: this isn’t about finding a target. It’s about the circularity of creating ideas, sending them forth, and being ironically refilled and fulfilled through this giving.

At its heart, the pairing of lines from Bobby Magee captures my fears of being a Christian wife and mother. I’m afraid my freedom will involve having nothing more to lose because I’ve already lost myself. I fear a man’s work will render me empty. I fear this, even though my husband doesn’t oppress me or expect me to give up my dreams. I fear this, even though I know God desires me to continue with my career as academic and writer.

*Doug Phillips founded Vision Forum, a ministry that publishes books from a patriarchal perspective. Although I’ve read books by Vision Forum authors, I haven’t read any of his.


The Planet Sardon: A Social History of Gender Inequalities

One of the most revered texts of the Sardonian people is Johnathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. Scholars have studied and translated Swift’s writing for more than five-hundred years, ever since Dr. Rastmuck, progenitor of the Veil of Microbes religion, claimed the microbe god L. Bulgaris inspired him to spirit-write a copy. Although historians have debated the accuracy of Rastmuck’s claim, citing evidence demonstrating the book’s earthly origins—such as the wood-chip fiber of the paper, the typesetting, and the ghastly cover image—Rastmuck’s followers insist none of this was impossible for L. Bulgaris to replicate. Or, as one devotee put it, “L. Bulgaris is invisible to the naked eye, but he is in and on and around us, healing and replicating all matter.” One early legend counters that the words inscribed inside the cover of the original Gulliver’s Travels, To John with love, indicate an English-speaking tourist left the volume during the surge of Love Tours when Earth men longed for the early modern Sardonic matriarchal society.

Modern Sardonians endlessly debate which Swiftian societal structure L. Bulgaris meant for them to follow. In the first century post Rastmuck’s prophetic spirit-writing, religious thinkers considered each society as a step forward in the evolution of consciousness. Rastmuck deemed Brobdingnab as the first order of development, even though he followed Swift’s faulty order when spirit-writing the book. The idea of the Small Man in a society of giants is a prime Sardonian koan. Because Sardonians worship a God who is part of the microbiome, they must become small in order to become large. Using the honed Sardonian skill of understanding all words literally, in that first century—the Enlightenment years—thousands of men stood under compactor machines (These were used to preserve and store large vegetable marrows before the advent of genetically modified miniatures. See Agriculture, Small Planets, Sardon) which irreversibly shrunk them to the size of five inches.

Because Sardonians in those first Swiftian days still clung to their early matriarchal order, large women coveted and fought for the Small Men, storing them in mini houses, as described in Swift’s writing. Most of the Small Men on the market soon became pleasure models, to be dropped for play between the pendulous breasts of wealthy temple dames—again, all in accordance with Swift’s scriptures. Most of these men died young, though a study of their death certificates fails to elucidate whether they died of complications, disease, or bodily harm, or whether they simply disappeared. Rastmuck’s followers added each one to his Book of Martyrs, an ever-developing body of work that remains in the underground libraries to this day. To add a martyr, modern Sardonians fill in a short form and pay a servicing fee, and although this price has nearly quadrupled in the last decade, it comes with a coupon for one free mashed vegetable marrow.

It isn’t the point of this entry to provide an extensive social history of the Swiftian epochs, but rather to provide a framework for understanding the current gender issues of the Sardonian peoples. As the society has developed and evolved to the Laputan era, it has also shifted to a heavy-handed patriarchy, as was more common in the early modern Earth. Most Sardonian religious scholars now claim that patriarchy is the will of L. Bulgaris, and the very reason he inspired Dr. Rastmuck in an age of wanton matriarchy. The women might protest this explanation, or join in the religious debates, if they had any words to use as currency. Politicians and religious leaders have interpreted their collective silence as contentment with their appropriate gender role, as well as general agreement with the Laputan order, instead of the truth as has been published in short form by poor Sardonian sociologists.

When the stock market crashed at the end of the Houyhnhnms era—that is, the years when Sardonian political leaders imported millions of horses to the planet, despite its lack of grazing land, in order for this higher order of person to teach and rule the people—the government underwent a ritual slaughtering of all four-legged beasts. As a means of curbing the outpouring of philosophical, mathematical, and scientific treatises inspired by the horses, President Jory Kagel offered these treatises to the masses, cut into word pieces, spilling the millions of words over city streets, where men and women alike gathered them in bags to cart home.

President Kagel proceeded to save the wrecked economy by declaring words as the new currency, a policy that earned him the Sardonic Peace Prize. The citizenry could use their words to buy, sell, and speak. Due to the language adeptness of female Sardonians, however, women “hoarded the planet’s riches, stealing any and all forms of manly rhetoric and reasoning.” This was the complaint and/or rallying cry of male citizens, albeit one not currently accepted by poor sociologists. Nevertheless, it was used as an excuse to outlaw a woman’s right to work and earn currency and invest capital. Further, the nuanced portion of the law hinted that women had no right to the word currency at all—that, by the will of L. Bulgaris and in respect of Dr. Rastmuck, women could only be endowed words by their fathers or husbands.

This policy has left millions of Sardonian women in impoverished conditions, unable to buy or sell or speak their minds, unless their male protectors give them a reasonable allowance. This policy has also shut down the work of poor sociologists, most of whom only have a few words left for their own survival, and who are, therefore, unable to offer aid or support to women. Obviously, those with the most words use them to uphold this new social structure. They also waste them on trivial love poems and erotic role-playing fantasies, with the excuse that these are special gifts to help them more fully love women and to eulogize the feminine roles of babysitter, maid, cook, and helpmeet.

This author, often accused of being a waster of words, is now using his last

[The author was hauled off to debtor’s prison and was unable to finish this piece, which is scheduled to be torn up and the words transferred to the Poor Little Rich Boys’ Education Fund.]

See also: The Planet Sardon: A Travelogue


Memoirs From a Nineties Coffee Girl: My Nature and Theirs

Being a nineties young adult necessarily meant being an eighties child and a seventies baby. As a seventies baby, my young mind absorbed the earthy seventies lifestyle, which involved shopping at health food stores. Some of my earliest memories contain snapshots of the original Nature’s grocery in Portland, of the enormous bulk bins filled with nuts and raw honey. The remembered smell of my dad’s fresh-baked granola, made with Nature’s honey, oats, and roasted nuts, brings tears to my eyes. These early visits impressed an ideal of grocery shopping, as well as eating, on my soul, such that Wal Mart is anathema to me in its mode of low quality food, staleness, and warehouse chic. For contrast, I could wax poetic about Wal Mart’s complete opposite, outdoor marketplaces–of which, Nature’s was not. But at least Nature’s was an attempt at progression toward a regressive notion of fresh food and community.

At some point in the nineties, Nature’s sold out to the GNC, which then sold out to Wild Oats, which then sold out to Whole Foods. Whole Foods, although adequate for purchasing organic produce, is a greener version of Wal Mart with (occasionally) healthier food options on the store shelves. Whole Foods is a corporation without a soul that doesn’t often stock local produce. I don’t trust them. When they claim to avoid GMOs, I sniff in disgust. If they wanted to rid their shelves of Franken-foods, they would test products and refuse to stock brands with GM ingredients. Any product containing canola, soy, or corn would be suspect.

If you’re wondering whether this drift in thought has anything to do with coffee and my childhood, then the answer is yes. Corporations have overtaken the homegrown health food stores of my youth, as well as local coffee shops, and re-branded them with shiny green paint and ink meant to trigger fluffy feelings of health and nature in the minds of customers, rather than the lack of feelings triggered by sterility and soullessness. I’d be willing to bet money that the Whole Foods manipulation extends to their website: Go look and see how many shades of green they use. [I checked this for myself. Yes, green, green everywhere. The blog is virtually unreadable because of the green background set with white lettering. Squinting at their gloating posts makes me feel as if I’m loping through a meadow! Um, no it doesn’t.]

Turning the clocks back to the early nineties, however, Portland still had its own brands. I worked at Coffee People in its glory days, when Jim and Patty owned the chain of stores. In fact, I first worked at the Beaverton store, which was in a strip mall right in front of the Beaverton Nature’s store. Although Nature’s hadn’t yet sold out to the GNC, they’d built stores at several locations and revamped their image with an early version of the eco-friendly-lodge-warehouse that Whole Foods loosely follows to this day. Imagine green banners hanging from the Warehouse rafters, and you’ll suddenly detect the fragrance of savory herbs and lavender. Occasionally, when on shift at Coffee People, I grabbed lunch at Nature’s deli. I preferred chicken salad with a mess of gloppy guacamole. If sun existed–a long shot in the Portland area before June–I sat at an outdoor table and soaked up the sense of security created by pseudo health food and Willa Cather novels. Pseudo–yes, the deli was rife with falsehoods. They served SunChips with their sandwiches, for heaven’s sake! Have you ever read the original ingredients on a bag of SunChips? [Only recently, Frito-Lay has removed the hydrogenated oils and also claim the chips contain no msg, which is unlikely. And don’t forget that the Frito Lay brand doesn’t avoid GM ingredients.] But, perhaps, the word sun is simply another manipulative sales tactic, especially for Oregonians in the Northwestern part of the state.

Back at the coffee shop, I washed away the chicken and avocado, but couldn’t wash away the finely ground espresso from the cracks and pores of my hands. After retying my apron, I stood at the espresso machine, jerking shots for fancy drinks, which I decorated with whipped cream wreaths. I also ran the register and sold bags of gourmet treats. The Coffee People bakery made exquisite loaves of banana bread, trays of rich brownies, and cookies that melted in the mouth due to the high butter content. When the phone rang, I answered it with the ever-chirpy, “Coffee People, best coffee in Portland.” This was also a popular catchphrase: “Coffee People, good coffee, no backtalk.” And how could I not remain chirpy, as jacked up on caffeine as I was?

Coffee People sold out on the corporate level, just as Nature’s did. Now, if you search for them on the internet, you’ll find something called Donut Coffee–yes, donuts, instead of delectable baked treats. All this selling out gives me a deep sense of loss. Where are Jim and Patty? I’m sure they’re enjoying their retirement. But I really want to know, where is the essence of the hippy couple whose faces benevolently smiled from the Coffee People cups and t-shirts?* Where has my youth gone? Corporations sucked it up and churned it out and left me with a life painted green–no cluttered Nature’s shelves and rooms filled with bulk barrels and bins–no charming Portland chain of coffee shops to create a hedge against the encroaching Starbuckian universe.

These days, I turn to my books to express the loss of these places in my life. I write about them. In the original version of my book Franklin’s Ladder, the female protagonist runs a fictional version of the Coos Head health food store pictured above. That co-op grocery still exists, as far as I know, in its original beauty. The fruit mural says it all in images: We are not Whole Foods.

Thank God for a continuity of fruits and vegetables. Thank God for books, where authors pack away losses and preserve them for the future.

*Jim and Patty live! I discovered, while searching for an image of one of their old stores, that they opened up a shop on Fremont (in Portland) called Jim & Patty’s Coffee. Thank God for Jim and Patty.