Monday, 9 April 2012

#AtoZChallenge - BLOGGERS WERE CHILDREN TOO! - H is for Hole (Donna Hole)

Hello! We start week two of the A-Z! I hope you enjoyed your Easter Break as I did.

Regular followers and visitors to this site will know I'm using BLOGGERS WERE CHILDREN TOO! for my theme this year. I know my visitors have been enjoying reading about little bloggy children. 

Last week, I featured:

Ann Best - A
Laura Bambrey - B
Cathy Oliffe-Webster - C
Michael di Gesu - D
Sarah Pearson - E
Francine Howarth - F
Melissa Ann Goodwin - G

You are welcome to check my older posts to read about any/all you've missed so far!

Rock on A- Z Challenge.

Today I begin another exciting week with a rather long post by a wonderful blogger friend, but I thought it was all so interesting I didn't want to cut it. You're welcome to skim read if you're in a bursting hurry to read your allocated 20 or so posts, but those who linger will enjoy every word:

H is for Hole (Donna Hole)
The picture is the earliest one there is of me (I'm the chubby girl on the right without a baby on her lap).  I was about 3 years old and this was the day the four of us were delivered into our permanent lives. 


I was born in Orange, California, USA in 1962; but I don't believe I lived there for more than a few months after my birth.  My older sister (19 months older) was born in Paradise CA, and my brother (18 months younger) was born in Oroville, CA.   We moved around quite a bit between my older sister and youngest sister's (three years younger than me) birth.  My biological mom was a carnival worker; and after she abandoned us we moved to a few foster homes before we landed (as a package deal) with our permanent foster parents who kept us until we grew up and moved out on our own.


  I grew up in Oroville, CA; home of the largest earth filled dam in the world.  Visitors can follow "the green line" off the freeway exits through the town and partake of the camping, boating, excellent bass fishing, and historical land marks that mark Oroville's history as a gold mining town lumber producer  left in the wake of its growth.  The chief industry is debateable; tourism in the Parks and Recreation preserves;  agrigultural in all forms; or the utililty district the provides elictricity and water resources throughout the Central Valley all the way to Los Angeles area.

  Set at the apex of two mountain ranges, the Sierra Nevada's on the SE and Cascades to the North, it is rumored that Paul Bunyan formed Table Mountain (on the Cascades) by hacking off a small hilltop so he'd have a place to rest and eat his lunch while traveling through with his pet ox Blue.  The Buttes that form a line off to the west towards the coast are the results of his whittling.  The legendary Ishi (last of the stone-age Yahi Indians) was discovered starved and hiding in a shed down on Myers Street in 1911; and stories of Big Foot sightings abound still in Cherokee Town.
  The town hit a minor boom back in the 70's when Hollywood discoverd our quaint town and surrounding forests and rock piles.  The Outlaw Josey Wales, The Klansman, and the TV series BJ and the Bear were all filmed in Oroville.  Errol Flynn lived in nearby Chico during the filming of Robin Hood, and Gary Burghoff ("Radar" from the TV show M*A*S*H) retired in Paradise, where he sold his paintings at local art establishments.  Many actors/actresses, film and record producers, and other entertainment professionals still live and shop up in Kelly Ridge.
  I grew up surrounded by diversity, although I didn't know it until I moved away and came home again.  Most of the underground tunnels build by the Chinese workers have been sealed off, and there was a big outcry about a decade ago when some agency (I never knew who/what) proposed to remove the Chinese Temple back to its homeland.  Oroville had its share of race riots involving the African American community back in the 60's and 70's, but the migrant farm population went largely unnoticed even if Spanish was the prevelant language.  (No, I speak no Spanish.)  And I didn't know there was a Native American reservation just outside of Oroville until the first casino opened in the late 1990s.

Sadly, I think the Hippy Movement mostly missed my little town.  I remember dawning tie-dyed shirts and dresses, begging for suede and fringe purses and vests, and putting sequins and peace signs on everything I owned; but I don't remember anyone ever mentioning "hippies" unless they'd seen a NEWS report of antics from distant places.  For us in the Bible Belt, it was all just a passing fad of clothing and slang language.  The outer world was a cool and interesting place, but didn't affect daily life much.
  Naturally, you can see why I lit out of there as soon as I graduated high school and turned 18 (lol).


  Sitting on Montgomery Street and watching a shoot-out between Richard Burton and Lee Marvin?  Traisping the trails and pretending wild adventures with my sisters and brother up at Little Grass Valley or over at Ft Bragg on the coast?  The summer my dad decided not to plant the garden or breed rabbits for us kids to harvest or butcher?  My first date and the kiss as he dropped me at the front door?  Or was it the day I packed everything in my new husband's Pinto and headed off to my new life?
  I'm nearly 50 years old now, it all blurs together.


 Hmm, there are enough of those to choose from; but how about the 5.7 earthquake of 1975?  We'd experienced several small earthquakes during the last couple months of school - we all thought it was pretty funny to hide under our desks, but since school didn't close and we didn't get sent home early, we learned to ignore the the rolling earth.  After that big one though (and it did scare me, I had visions of the earth opening sucking me into hell for my unrepentant ways), my mom hussled us all up into the hills above the dam in the VW bug while we waited for the floods and end of times to come.
  Well, that turned out alright, and I have to admit it was fun getting to eat pizza and drink unlimited amounts of Shasta sodas all day.  My mom wasn't good at thinking through a crisis; she'd never survive the zombie apocalypse.   And my parents bought a VW bus when the worst of the fright died down so we'd have more room to pack up if the leak in the dam expanded.  Probably the worst that came of that earthquake was the closing of the only movie theater in town.


  Orland, CA (lol).  About 50 miles NW of Oroville.  Flat land, full of rice, wheat, alfalfa, and corn fields.  Broken only by groves of almonds, olives, apples, oranges and grainery towers.  A windy place, the only real water about a 30 minute drive to Black Butte Lake with few shade trees.  Orland population about 2,000 (Orovilles probably never got over 15,000 though) spread over lots of acreage.

  Only two decent dinner restraunts (plenty of Mexican cafes), one bar (unless you count the lounges in the Mexican cafes that close around 8p), no Walmart, no McDonalds.  There's a Subway though, and an excellent Chinese restraunt.  Too many antique stores and flower shops.  Gas and groceries are too expensive, even though I-5 practically runs through the town.  Got a couple Red Box for movie rentals outside the WalGreens.
  We have a general comment for complaints about internet service, supply deliveries, and emergency response:  everything is slower in Orland.  I wish I was back in Oroville with the rest of my family.
Except my day job is here, and the few real life friends I've made, and my youngest is growing up here and making friends.  And this is basically where my writing career started.  Being away from the influences and distractions of my extended family has helped me concentrate on the dream of becoming a published author.  Short stories only at this time; but some day I'll be a famous rich author and can live anywhere I want (or I'll win the Lotto, I have about as much chance with one as I do the other) and then I'm returning to the place I grew up.
  Oroville is home, where my heart will always want to return.

My Photo
I work at a social services agency, a job I enjoy nearly as much as writing. Although I've always been interested in writing, I didn't think I had a novel in me until about four years ago. Even then it was just a short story that kept needing details filled in. I write about women's issues, and have three novels completed. I have three ex-husbands, five children (four of them grown), a daughter-in-law, almost son-in-law, and two granddaughters to goad my muse into a creative frenzy.

Donna's life has sure been interesting don't you think? Tomorrow I host Iris Blobel. I hope you can visit and learn more about Iris.


  1. Wow, a 5.7 earthquake must have been scary. I think the most I've experienced is a 3, lol.
    It was great getting to know you a little better, Donna :)

  2. I don't even know how I would cope in an earthquake! Sounds terrifying!

  3. Nice to know more about Donna. I can't believe how many siblings you had, all so close together in age. How lucky one family took you all in.

  4. I didn't know you were a foster kid.
    Oroville sounds secluded - and yet not. Maybe it meant you were exposed to just the right amount of life.
    Hope you get to move back there one day.

  5. I know and really like Donna. I did NOT know these things about her. Great to know more. Hi Donna! Hope you're getting a lot done in your month off.

  6. Donna, What a fascinating life! Oroville sounds like a great place to grow up. Hope you do get to move back some day.

  7. Sounds like there's a book in there to me!

  8. Hi...I'm hopping over from the A to Z challenge. Lovely post...good luck with the challenge.

    Donna L Martin

  9. *waves hi to Denise and Donna* ;-)

    Great post. Fun tie-dy image too. Know a few who still go with the hippie clothes fad, lol.

    1. Ah, I love it when I see an old hippie still wearing the bright threads. There are communities around the hills where it's a 60s timewarp here.


  10. All I have to say is, your area is super beautiful. However, not sure I could feel comfortable with all those earthquakes.

  11. Hi Denise .. First - how did Sarah get "E"? Great post here from Donna - and I can see why you didn't want to shorten it .. amazing story - especially when you read her bio at the end ...??!!

    Donna - loved the read - thanks for letting us know your heart is in Oroville, but your heart is where your children are ..

    Have a great week ahead .. cheers Hilary

  12. Jaye Robin is right, Donna. Sounds like there is a book in that to me, too. I live in an apartment complex with several Old Hippies. One is a vivacious blonde, her husband is a sullen hairdresser. The other just looks bemused all the time. May your tomorrows all contain great non-blurring memories, Roland

  13. Very heart warming. Godd luck and blessings to you Donna.

  14. Wow, Donna, what a story!

  15. I knew some of this about Donna, but not all. Yes, what an interesting life, and it's not over yet, Donna. I think my heart is there with you in the WEST; in the wide open spaces and sometimes not enough good water. I'm SO glad Denise didn't cut any of this out. It's all SO fascinating!!

    I just LOVE what you're doing with the A to Z, Sis. Every day is a virtual feast about someone special!!
    Ann Best, Author of In the Mirror & Other Memoirs

  16. Wow. This is a fun theme for the month.

  17. What an interesting place, and that picture is gorgeous.

  18. What a pleasure to meet Donna and learn about her interesting life. You've got a super theme going, Denise.

  19. Lovely to meet you Donna and find out more of your story! Small town life in CA sounds kind of sweet :-)

  20. Very nice to know more about Donna. Funny, but I turned to writing away too when I left my motherland and "home".

    Cheers to you for this feature and Donna ~

  21. Donna, it's been good taking this trip with you and finding out a bit more about you.

  22. I saved this until I had time to read and enjoy it, and I'm so glad I did. What an absolutely fascinating life you've had Donna. You're always kind and friendly, and helpful. I'm so glad to know you.

  23. Hello Donna.
    What a colorful & fascinating life. Orland & Oroville look like beautiful places. Hold on to your never know, they might just come true! Nice to learn a bit more about you.
    Great post Denise!

  24. Thank you everyone; for stopping by and for all your encouraging comments. I was here earlier today - on my lunch break - and had a nice comment, but blogger or my computer did something weird and the comment just dissappeared. Then I had to go back to work and just now got back.

    I'm glad everyone enjoyed my home town as much as I, even the occasional earthquakes :)

    Thank you Denise for hosting my childhod story. This series has been the highlight of the month for me. I am enjoying getting to know so many blogger friends.


    1. My pleasure Donna. It's been worth it! Yours was a very honest, generous post.


  25. Oh my gosh Donna, I always thought (no idea why) that you were born and bred in the UK!
    Goodness, you must be busy and very organised having five children (and 3 ex's!) It shows in how you manage the blog critiques/posting too. I am impressed. Lovely to find out more about you. Super post.


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