2 November 2019    

Our refrigerator must be close to 35 years old, bought not too many years after we moved up here from California. Like a lot of people, we stick magnets on it, and we seldom get around to throwing any away. There are the usual phone numbers for doctors, hospital, and plumbers, also several years of Hillsboro Hops baseball schedules and a current calendar. (We get the calendar every year from a local realtor; I keep the calendar [and sometimes remember to tear off the pages at the end of each month] but don’t particularly like her photo (I’m sure she’s nice enough, but we don’t know her), so it’s covered up with a handmade New Hampshire scene bought at the West Milan Store. The official West Milan Store magnet is there, as are two from Santiago’s La Casa restaurant – red, Valentine-shaped magnets, with the message, “You are the heart of our business.” One of Shawn’s home-made advertisements for his once upon a time bookstore, Pauper’s, in Bowling Green, Ohio, is there. There’s also a wooden whale (given to Sally by one of her friends), a ceramic moose (I think I bought that for her), and three strawberries from some unremembered source. A Humboldt State Alumni strip supports our alma mater.

   A few of the magnets have a little deeper meaning to us. For instance, the West Milan Store, was the closest place to our New Hampshire off-the-grid “camp” (about six miles) where we could  get gas for the truck and get our propane tanks refilled. Its magnet ambitiously proclaims “For all your grocery needs under one roof.” Well, it’s true if all your needs meant a loaf of bread, a can of beans, or maybe a package of hot dogs. They did have a small restaurant where the locals, hunters, and fishermen could get a cup of coffee or some meal off a limited menu, and trade a few “war stories.” Come to think of it, maybe they were filling all the local needs.

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   We had been in Southern California almost 12 years before we moved to Oregon, and were sorely missing “California style” Mexican food. Portland had a lot of Mexican restaurants, but we hadn’t found any very satisfying until we found Santiago’s La Casa, only a couple miles from home. The owners and cooks were a White American and his Asian (Vietnamese, if I recall correctly) wife. Their “Mexican” food was as good as any we had found in Oregon, and we ate with them every week or so. About two years after we found them, they closed up shop without any warning, and apparently left the area.

    I remember Santiago’s specifically because Sally’s mother was staying with us at the time. She was elderly, and had trouble deciding what to order off their menu. She found something she liked (a taco salad), and every time after that she ordered the same thing. Whenever we appeared at the door to the restaurant, Dave would start the taco salad going, and would bring it to her at our table before we ordered the rest of our food. She loved the food, and especially loved him remembering each time.

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   A small, much-faded magnet is from the Duffin Cove Motel near Tofino on Vancouver Island, Canada. Tofino had been “discovered” by the early 1980s, but it hadn’t been DISCOVERED, and the times we went there it was still a fairly quiet, beautiful end-of-the-road destination. Even in mid-summer, you might be the only people on long stretches of ocean beach or on hiking trails through the dense old-growth rain forests.

   Sally found Duffin Cove while we were staying in a motel in Victoria. We had decided to do some further exploring on the Island, and information she found made it seem interesting. An impromptu phone call found them to be pretty full, but a thick Scottish voice told her they did have a spot for us in the main building. We started up-Island. Duffin Cove was lovely – perched on a high bluff overlooking a number of small islands. In the dark early morning, we watched the lights of fishing boats passing by on their way to sea. In the half-light of the nearly Midnight Sun, we watched them return.

  Another year, we planned ahead and were able to secure one of the Duffin Cove A-frames. Down a long flight of stairs and perched nearly on the water’s edge, we had the same views of islands, bay, and boats we had above, but even better. It felt like we were completely alone on the edge of the sea. A mink, that scrambled around the rocks near our cabin, must have thought the same.

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   One last magnet is a depiction of a comic condor, with a memo pad attached. Mary, our district secretary, gave it to me when I retired in 1994. Each tear-off note reads “Straight from the S. O. B.” An asterisk directs you to the bottom of the note where “S. O. B.” is explained: Sweet Old Buzzard. But Mary had written on the top post-it note: “Or is that Sweet Old Boss?” Over the years, I’ve used some of the post-its off the pad. Nearly 25 years old now, the top one is still in place.


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