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Don Primer, Artist, Musician: Finding Water in Parched Landscapes

Updated: Nov 21

Our first interview is with Don Primer, a local singer/songwriter who has been part of the Chico music scene for decades. Don is a veteran of the Vietnam war and was one of thousands who lost their home to the Camp Fire in 2018. I had the pleasure of talking with him during September’s Open Studios Art Tour put on by the Chico Art Center. Don was one of 4 artists who set up mock studios to share their creations here at Kai Music and Arts. His specialty is making lamps out of Joshua Tree burls he has been collecting since he was in middle school. 

Don is a tall, slim man with long hair in a ponytail, almost always seen wearing a hat and walking with a staff. He’s in his mid-70’s and has a hitch in his giddy-up that might be part of a bigger health concern affecting his hands and even his mind, which is what initially motivated him to come to Kai at the beginning of the year. Although he has already produced a few albums, Don still had songs he wanted to put down for posterity out of concern that his guitar-picking days might be numbered. 

He began coming to Kai and working upstairs with Ben over the course of several months, taking it easy and not rushing the process. Don doesn’t strike anyone as the kind of person who’s in a hurry, but not because there’s anything slow about his pace. It’s because he’s present and available. When he’s with you, he’s with you. Don is part of a New Thought church, formerly in Paradise, and now in Chico after the former burned in the Camp Fire in 2018. It’s been an influential part of his life and it comes through in his lyrics and in his demeanor. In our chat we talk about his time in Vietnam, his art, music, spirituality, surviving the 2018 Camp Fire and living with PTSD and a yet-undiagnosed, little known disease called Transthyretin amyloidosis (ATTR-CM).

Please enjoy our interview:


So you're not a Chico native. You're from the desert, from Mojave, right?

Actually, I was born in Palmdale and I grew up in a town called Littlerock, CA, 10 miles away.

I went to high school out there and junior college at Antelope Valley Junior College. I used to call it “Tumbleweed Tech.” And since (that time) the early seventies, it's now part of the campus of the University of Bakersfield,  like an offshoot.

So that must mean that they're now offering Bachelor's degree programs.

So what was it like growing up out in the desert? It's a different landscape.

Really different. Yeah. We lived way out in the middle of nowhere and we had some neighbors within half a mile or so. The field across the street from my house was our football field and baseball field. All the neighbors would get together and play.

Yeah. Probably the only grass around!

Not much!

Yeah. I've been out to Joshua Tree just one time. And it was such a strange environment. You could see how people start thinking they're seeing aliens. And how a lot of science fiction comes from being out there because the terrain is just so interesting. The heat is just such a different kind of heat than you get here.

Yeah. Yeah. Well, you know, the Joshua Tree is not nearly as  prevalent in Northern California. I mean, it's only one place in the world. There's a little bit in Arizona and a little bit in Utah as well. Most of it is in the Mojave Desert. Yeah. Southern California.

So what inspired you to start collecting all these pieces? 

Let's see. When I was in the seventh grade, I had a friend who lived a couple miles away, and I was walking to his house and I looked down on the ground and noticed a burl. Oh, okay. That's kind of cool. And so I took it with me. Fast forward about 20, 25 years, I ran outta gas and I looked across the desert and kind of figured out where my friend's house was. And so I started walking towards the house probably a mile away, and I got on a coyote trail, and I noticed the burls all over the place. I mean, you could actually walk up on, we could see where the tree actually fell down hundreds of years ago. And all the pithy and soft stuff is gone, the wind, sandblast, sun, rain, snow. Um, and the only thing left is this hard, gnarly burl. And so I started collecting 'em. Pretty soon I had an arm full. So I sat 'em down to the side and kept going. Another arm full, and, you know, came back later and picked them up. And at that point I realized there's a lot of Joshua Tree burls out there!

But there's also an interesting fact. There are young forests and older forests. And once I found that out, I stopped going to where there was no burls at all. The older forests, again, in which the trees had fallen down hundreds of years ago and all that was left of it was hard and gnarly burl, kind of laid out in the sand as though it was located in the tree somewhere. And so the tree fell down and all these burls were located just how they landed in kind of a tree shape. 

How old do you think some of these are? (picking up a piece of burl)

Hundreds. Hundreds of years. And the young forest, they're only generally one pillar (one trunk), I suppose you could say. The one trunk, when it blooms, it then branches off and these actually put rhizomes underneath the ground. Another little plant pops up and it's some real unusual wood stuff that you can't see. I can dig a little bit to get the sand out of the way and it's just completely different. It's a lot thinner wood than these, the burls here.

Ah. I see. 

It's a little bit more fragile.

Yeah. It's interesting how some of them are very light and thin, and then some of them are, you know, dense. (examining young and old tree burls)

And I think all the holes and the little areas... that's the way the tree stores its nutrients and water.

Okay. Interesting. Yeah. So when did you decide to start using it as an art form? When, when did you get into art? 

I guess probably 1970. I  graduated from “Tumbleweed Tech" in ‘72 to move up to Chico, and I brought a lot of burls with me. Then in the next 10 years or so, I went back down three or four times and picked up more. I didn't find some of the boxes I had eft behind. They were probably used for firewood like my dad did back in the 30's.

So people just treated 'em like we do with pine trees out here.


Then let's see, when I permanently moved up to Chico that's when I started working on it a little bit more. I had access to my uncle's wood shop in Marysville. So on the weekends I'd go there and, uh, use the lathe and other woodshop kind of tools and just kind of discovered what looks good. And, the bottom line…what sells.


When I first started up here in Chico, I was making a lot of sculptures. The wood itself is a piece of sculpture. I was combining 'em in different ways, in a juxtapositional synthesis, and really at that point was again, making sculptures, but not selling anything anywhere… very little anyway. I did the Open Studios Tour up in Paradise at my (former) place for two or three years, and maybe I might have sold a couple macrame hanger kind of burls with a cactus in the middle.

And then I realized, well, they're not selling. I mean, people don't see the vision that I see.

Yeah. They don't see the possibility. 

Yeah. Unless you show it to 'em. Again, they're just, they're pieces of art in themselves. I just sort of arrange them and paint on them. And then I realized, okay, so I'll start doing functional lamps, so that's why lamps, candles, and fountains as well.

I don't think I've seen fountains, but yeah. The lamps are really, really neat. Very cool.

And so, outside of doing your Joshua Tree art, you are a musician as well


When did you start playing? You just play guitar mainly?

When I was about 10 years old, in the fifth grade I was told I was gonna get a guitar for Christmas. And so, the couple weeks leading up to Christmas I kept looking underneath the tree and there was no guitar shape there at all. And so I was kind of bummed. And then on the day we actually opened the presents, this one present was mine, and it wasn't shaped like a guitar. It was just a rectangle. And so I opened it up and Oh, good! I got my guitar anyway.


And my dad didn't like it that much (the sound of me practicing), so I had to go down in the basement to play. <laugh>

Then in the sixth grade, my school teacher, Mr. Algin, taught guitar lessons. There was about three or four of us that stayed after school and took lessons from him.

Nice! And that was just on his own time that he did that, do you think?

 Yeah. After school hours. 

That's really neat when teachers do that. That’s how I learned how to crochet back in the 80’s. 

When I went to Vietnam, there was a guitar there that belonged to somebody in the Artillery Battery. When he left, he left the guitar to me 'cause he knew I played. And so in Vietnam, I would play a little bit here and there, but when I got back from Vietnam and went to “Tumbleweed Tech", that's when I really started playing the guitar.


How old were you when you went to Vietnam?

I turned 21 in Vietnam.

I was out for a year and a half with a physical injury that made me a 1-Y* instead of a 1-A*, so I didn't get drafted for that whole year. 

And then, let's see, I was in Osawatomie, Kansas, and I thought I'd called my dad for his birthday, and he said, “Happy birthday to you too. You have a letter here from the Selective Service.

*(1-Y is a “Registrant qualified for service only in time of war or national emergency. Note: The 1-Y classification was abolished December 10, 1971. 1-A – Available for military service.”)


And I went, "oh, <laugh>. Okay. Could you send me some money to get home?" And so he did and I was able to come home and go down to the induction center in L.A. 

So you did end up in active service? 

Oh, absolutely. Yeah. Artillery.

I think the most traumatic events that I saw were when two of my friends stepped on (land)mines. That was really ugly.

When I got back home and into the Veterans Administration, I had to write a thesis about how Vietnam affected me and how it affects me today, and it was 30 pages long. 


It took me two, three weeks to write it.

While writing, I had remembered one of the guys who had stepped on the mine. I had ran over to him and held him and said, "you're going home now, Baldwin. You're going home now." And there was another guy who stepped on a mine as well, so I saw a lot of trauma.

Oh, yeah, for sure. Absolutely.

So did having that guitar when you were out there in Vietnam help you to survive and express yourself? 

Yeah. Playing guitar was one of the ways that creativity could come through me.


When did you get into songwriting? Were you writing songs out there, or Poetry? 

I wasn't really out performing that much. I was just mostly doing covers of other people.

What were your music influences back then?

The Beatles and The Stones… that kind of music, and the blues. I would go to blues jams and open mics. I think I really started seriously writing in ‘72 when I came up to Chico. I had a number of songs that I had written, and fast forward to about 2010. I had a woman in my life who was my muse, my creative inspiration, I suppose, and I did three albums.

Oh, wow.

Probably 30 songs or more. Ten or more of them were songs I already wrote. The title of the album is “30 Years of Foreplay,” 


That was how long it took me to get to the point of writing it down and getting in the studio. 

It's a good title! <laugh>

The second album was Spirit Moves Me, and that's kind of an interesting factor there. I frequently would play guitar at churches. The night before I was scheduled to play the next Sunday, the minister called me and said, what's the name of your album? At that point I had not figured out what the name was gonna be. What came outta my mouth was “Spirit moves me”.

The reason she asked that was that in the past, I had a couple of songs, one in particular that was eighty-sixed, that was called My Baby Ain't Got No Tan Line.


At that same time, I did a third album of mostly 10 or 15 year old stuff called

Hindsight is 2020. And that one I didn't even produce. It was on a master, and that's all I had at that point. I didn't think about going into the studio or anything like that,

and then one day I met you and Gary, and you said you had a music and art school and I thought, oh, well, that, that's me! Music and art! <laugh>

So that's when I came over and started recording my fourth CD.

And again, I really don't have that much of a title. I mean, the working title is Red Flag Warning. The main song in that album comes from the results of the Camp Fire in Paradise and my evacuation during that time. 

Right now I've got two songs that I'm working on… the notes and chords, but so far no inspiration for words.

That's kind of how I do it. I figure out some chords so that my fingers know where to go, and then I start humming to see where my voice fits in. And then, from there, a lot of times the music will just flow through me. 

For one of the songs on the album Spirit Moves Me called Come Forth, I was visiting a friend who was doing community service because she got a ticket. She was painting tables at Bidwell Park, so I brought my guitar and played while she was working. Her boss came up and said, “you can't be here. She's working now and you can't be here disturbing her.” Okay. So I went over to a table about 20 feet away and started playing this song, and the words pretty much came right through me.

I had to write 'em down really quick so I wouldn't forget it. 

So that was the inspiration for one of my songs.

Oh, nice.

Yeah. The most recent couple of songs that I wrote, where, again- I had the chords and kind of knew where my voice was gonna be. The title of one song is God Is My Only Source and I was inspired by a Religious Science minister down in Southern California, actually at 29 Palms. He came up to Chico and gave a sermon that one Sunday and indicated that one of the tools in his toolbox for counseling was to have the person repeat, “God is my only source”, but to do it with emphasis on the first word, GOD is my only source, then, God IS my only source, then, God is MY only source, etc.  

Those became the words to the song. I thought, what other ways is God my source? And from that inquiry a lot of verses came.

The latest song that I'm most proud of... I was online somewhere, and saw the Lord's Prayer in Aramaic. That's the language that Jesus spoke and it's totally different from the traditional concept of God being outside yourself somewhere.

The first line in the traditional prayer is, of course, “Our Father which art in Heaven.”

But in the first phrase of the metaphysical one it's “Oh, Cosmic Birther of all radiance and vibration.”


Yeah. And it's like, whoa.... that changes everything. And the song continues. It's quite an interesting song. When I first started writing it, I thought, well, okay, I'll do the cosmic birther part, and then I'll write underneath that. The next verse will be the Catholic version, but that wasn't flowing, let's put it that way. So I decided just to write it down as it was, as Jesus taught his friends and followers. I sang it at the Center for Spiritual Living once. I also sang it at a couple of other venues and just for friends when we have a jam session.


Is that where you used to do spoken word stuff?

I've done mostly open mic stuff and maybe three times over the years I've been to the Rock House. The couple there is trying to make it a venue for musicians. They stayed open after the fire and then after that their one old beautiful

building burned and the new one that they had built was not touched, you know? And the old one was some sort of a historical society site.

Yeah. It was an old roadhouse. 

Yeah. I think that is what it was.

A piano was there and it was so out of tune that I couldn't

play it. So I talked to the owners when she gave me the money for performing, I said, just put it in an account and buy a new piano, or get that one tuned! 

So you said that you used to do open mics around Chico in the seventies

Yeah, it would be the 70's and the 80's.

What were the venues out here then? 

I remember one downtown… underneath the Senator Theater, on the

corner. Susan Dobra and Ann Dan were the hosts and would call people up to perform by drawing a name out of a hat or you'd put your name on the list.

One time it was already way too full, so I just took my guitar outside on the

bench in the front of the cafe and started playing. I heard the knock on the window and Susan says “come on in!” So they put me on the stage.

That's cool. Was it a pretty vibrant music scene back then in Chico?

Yes. Always has been in Chico... a lot of musicians; a lot of artists.

Were they mostly around this downtown area? 

Oh yeah. I performed maybe twice at Has Beans. I performed Red Flag Warning there for the first time. When I played that song at the Rock House, there was a woman who evidently was also a Paradise resident. She moved her chair right up next to the stage so she could hear every word.

What are you gonna do with your new album?

Ben and I are talking about putting the Red Flag Warning Camp Fire CD on CDBaby, Spotify, YouTube, and Facebook.

Unfortunately, I have the Carpal Tunnel stuff. I cannot do the chords like I used to.  

So it's not a type of arthritis?

No, It's a nerve thing called Transthyretin amyloidosis (ATTR-CM and it affects my guitar playing, but

there are two different medications that you can take that work pretty well.

Well that’s good to know. 

I'm glad you got your album produced. Do you feel a sense of completion?

Yes, and especially when Ben applies his techno magic. I'm not a computer person at all, but he can do everything… pitch correction, all kinds of things, such as record just one line, and then go back and record another one and make it louder in one particular phrase.

Yeah. I'm excited to hear it.

We're getting to the point where he's going to send it off to Ryan Sanders who Ben says is a good mixer. You know you have a good engineer when they tell you that there's somebody better than them! As soon as he gets that back then we'll start working on graphics for the CD.


<laugh> That's cool. So where does your spiritual history come from? Were you raised in a spiritual environment?

Yeah. My mom was a Foursquare Pentecostal who believed you're going to go to Hell if you're a sinner. When I got to be an adult that belief didn't fit anymore.

My ex-wife and I moved to Paradise and decided that we wanted to kind of check out all the local churches. That first Sunday we were going to try Seventh Day Adventist’s and I created a dead (car) battery, so I couldn't go!


Oops. But, my wife went. At that church they have a big plexiglass soundproof enclosure in the center of the audience of the church where women who brought their babies could sit and they couldgo ahead and cry and it wouldn't disturb the service. But that wasn't for us, and I kept asking the people, so what is your philosophy about? (They’d say:) “Well, come to our after church dinner, and I'll explain everything.” And we did, and they didn't explain anything. They kept saying to come back on Sunday.

When I finally decided to go to the Church of Religious Science in Paradise, we got there and it was packed! There were people all over the place. What I realized was that it was Marianna Love and Ray Varlensky's celebration of their 25 year committment to eachother. I couldn't even sit next to my wife (because it was so full). I was in one chair in the front row, and she was in the back because we had our one year old.

So what I took out of that was, oh! I don't have to feel guilty or wrong, or feel like I'm blaspheming if I say that God is within me, the Christ Spirit within.

So Religious Science fit really well. I said, oh good! Finally a church who believes the way I do! I had no idea that there was a church out there like that.

That's the Science of Mind philosophy... Ernest Holmes? 

Yeah. And in fact, I did the five years worth of training to be a minister.

Oh, okay. Wow.

I never really thought that I would be a minister. In fact, my wife said, I don't wanna be married to a minister! That was pretty much the end of our relationship. I mean, I think it took another child and another 10 years before we actually divorced. She was also a singer, so she and I sang in the choir.

Oh, nice.

At that time my son Willie was in utero, so he was singing, too! 

And in fact, when he did decide to come on the outside and claim humanness I sang quite a bit at church, both in Chico and Paradise mostly.

He was in the fourth grade, and after one performance he comes up to me and says, “dad, when are we gonna take this show on the road?” Hmm. And I went, “well, you probably should finish high school first.

So, he's also a musician. I taught both of my kids to play guitar. 

Is he here locally?

My younger son, Willie is in Thermalito, and my older son, Joshu, who's 42, he's in Springfield, Kentucky. He's got a 20 acre ranch.

I went back and married him and his wife 16 years ago, so that was kind of a nice thing.

Do you still have a ministerial license?

I never got my license. Back then, you just graduated and got a certificate. One of the things they've changed since I went through that program is that you're now supposed to get a practitioner's license, and I never did that.

Just recently, a friend of mine who had gone through the program at the same time as I did, got her practitioner's license many years later.  She finally decided that she wanted to be a minister. So she's now a minister! The church has 22 practitioners, and of those 22, there's about seven of 'em are ministers.

And so here locally, the Paradise Church burned down, right?

Yeah. It was located at 789 Bille Rd. And the interesting thing about that is that they were a wealthy church. They were one of the first Religious Science churches in California besides Ernest Holmes’ foundation church down in Hollywood. 

So how many people were in the church, do you think? 

Up in Paradise it probably would've been between 70 and one hundred.

Of course that was before Covid and actually before the internet. Now CSL Chico broadcasts the Sunday lessons online and people can stay home and watch or listen to the the sermons and not come in.

So yeah. The church changed my life. I mean, I can look back on it and realize that I sang in the choir for the Chico church, probably for 30 years!


Coming up on November 8th, 2023 is the 5th anniversary of the Camp Fire. You've been through a lot with Vietnam, and then going through the fire…

I'm pretty sure it increased my PTSD. 

Oh, yeah. How, how would it not?

I’ve applied and gotten some more money from the VA… makes it nice.

So in the process of writing the song you mentioned, Red Flag Warning, what was that process like for you to get that song out? 

PG&E had a camp halfway up the Skyway, and it was called Red Flag Warning, and this was three or four months before the fire.  The little place where they had put in a septic system, they had invested a lot of money in it, and it turned out to be that that's the place where all the PG&E crews would hang out before they went up to Paradise to work. So there were crews all over for a long time preceeding the fire.

Does that feel therapeutic for you? To get that song out? 

Oh, absolutely. Yeah. Actually six months to the day after the fire, I was at Chico State Library giving a presentation on their oral history program, and it was probably about 45 minutes long and similar to what we're doing now… questions and answers. It was pretty intense at that time. It was about another three months later when I finally finished up the Red Flag Warning song.

It had been a part of my repertoire, and again, very, very therapeutic. And as well, going to Chico State and giving an interview- that was also very therapeutic for me.

So, did you own a house in Paradise that you lost? 

Oh yeah. Three bedroom, two bath on three quarters of an acre which had an orchard of some sort. And since the fire and over the last four or five years I've replanted. I have another maybe 30 fruit trees now. Before I had 40 and about one third of 'em survived. An old ancient fig tree survived and it's still knocking out figs like crazy. A little bit of water, a little bit of fertilizer, and Mother nature takes care.

So are you on your original property still? You kept the land?

The house is actually pretty much almost in the same location, same distance from the street. The lot is about 70 feet wide and 476 feet deep. So there's a back half that I don't really go to. I had planted an apricot tree on peach root stalk which used to grow apricots. After the fire, what started coming up from the roots was peach, not the apricot, and the quality is not that good! They're susceptible to a lot of different diseases.

Well, it's probably nice to see that there's still some life that regenerated from there.


I bought a manufactured home in Lower Paradise in 2021, and of course it was just all red dirt in the backyard. And over the short year that I was there, I would see stuff start to pop up and I'd have a little app where I could identify the leaves I’d see, like a little elm tree and a rose that came back. I just kept waiting and waiting, thinking, what color are the roses gonna be? ... It was just interesting to think about the home that was there and the whole neighborhood, and that these certain things somehow survived underground. I just allowed things to pop up and decided to appreciate what grows here naturally. That red dirt is so acidic, but there's a lot of things that grow natively there. You know, there's St. John's Wort everywhere, and mullein. And then of course, there's a lot of the serpentine rock that occurs naturally up there. 

Right. It's in the dirt and stuff. Green, which, actually, isn't that also asbestos?

Yeah. It's the California state rock, right? And full of asbestos. <laugh> 

Yeah. I have a few chunks that I've collected. There was a whole bunch of chunks in my neighbors yards, and some of 'em were huge and I used them in my landscape.

You had mentioned the neighborhood… 

Yeah. There was quite a few neighbors. I lived next to a trailer court. There were about 40 neighbors right next door. And then of course, the ones on the other side of the fence, we'd get together occasionally. Usually I have a big party on my birthday, 6/24/47. I invite all the neighbors and my friends. I even did it at my place in Paradise after the fire and before I rebuilt. I had a camper and I bought a generator and we had a party! 


And then, let's see, two years ago, the house was rebuilt, but I had not moved in yet. It still had some stuff to do. So we were still partying outdoors. but then this last year, my air conditioner got fixed and it was a beautiful day on my birthday.

So people rebuilt out there with you alongside your lot?

Yeah. I think the mobile home park has got another 40 trailers in it. One of my neighbors put his dogs in the truck and went to Oregon the day of the fire. He and his son put up a "lot for sale" sign. I took the phone number and I gave it to my other friend, and he ended up buying the place and building a house there. With my physical challenges, he's been real helpful getting things done that I could not do or that I could do, but I would pay for it later.

So, and that's good. Right across the street, the house did not burn, and I'm thinking that's probably where my cat ended up. 

On the day of the fire I get up in the morning and it's kind of orange outside, but, you know, get my coffee and pet my cat. And then she wanted out, so I let her out. And when I opened the door, I thought, Oh! It's really orange. Hmm. Well, I gotta get to a dental appointment in Chico at 10am, I better take a shower and get going. 

So in the middle of the shower, I look out the window and it was no longer orangey, it was black. Oh my God! And I stopped the shower immediately and got dressed. My neighbor came over and said, “Don. This is the big one.”

“Yeah, you're right. Sure is.

I drove one vehicle out into the middle of my lot thinking it would be away from trees and something maybe would survive.But it didn't. Yeah… the engine melted and a lot of aluminum that weighed 42 pounds. It was in the shape of a cat running with the front legs stretched out and the back legs stretched back.


Later I put a big chain around the neck and a marble cat eye in the eye space and it sold for $350 at the Chico Art Center. If I'd have known that, I'd have put a higher price on it!

<laugh> Yeah. I saw a piece of melted aluminum in one of your art pieces over there.

Yeah. I make what I call “Illumina Chimes”; just a mobile where the pieces kind of hit each other and ring whenever the wind blows it. 

And so you got the warning in the morning from the neighbor and looking around, what did you grab?

I parked my one car and was gonna take my truck because I had a camper on it in case I needed to live in it. And I looked in the backseat of my car. Oh, my guitar! I better take it. So I put my guitar in the front seat, and I think I might've gone back in to get all my papers and a few things that were important. By the time I got back to my truck, it's black. 8:00 in the morning and just jet black. And I hear somebody say, “Don glad you made it.” And it sounded like a friend that lived about three houses down, but who I didn't see that often. It was maybe two years later at music in the park here in Chico that I saw him and I asked him when he gave me a big hug "were you the one who said, “I'm glad you made it?” He said, "yeah, that was me." 

Wow. And so was everyone on the road at the same time?

 Yeah,  it was packed. Everybody was going about three miles an hour. And so I pulled out into my driveway and somebody let me in. I was real surprised. 

So I'm going down Elliot Road, and I see a side road and I thought maybe there's less traffic. So I turned in there and immediately saw a stop sign and car lights and realized I shouldn't have gotten outta line. And so I turned around, came back and, and was at the stop sign. At that time, a police officer, a woman, came up in her own private vehicle and started directing traffic. She stopped the traffic and let me and another guy out,. Otherwise I'd have been in there longer. 

For me it was fairly easy. I've talked to people who had hellacious times... life threatening stuff. And for me, I was back down in Chico by 10 o'clock in the morning.


So what brought you to Chico from Southern California? 

Originally school. Chico State. Some of my friends were also gonna go to Chico State, and we heard they partied like crazy.  Down in the Antelope Valley we partied crazy, too. We’d go out to Mojave Desert and party, shooting off flares.

What did you study there? 

I got a BA in Social Science. (The major was) designed for teachers. I took 21 units in Sociology and 15 units in Psychology. I never really used it shortly thereafter, but I think there was a time in my life when I realized I don't have any kind of retiremen, so I better start getting some sort of a career so I can generate the benefits. I interviewed for the state in two different places, but I didn't get the job.

I also interviewed to drive my vehicle for the post office, and I didn't get that job. And then I interviewed for the county and got the job! I was a drug and alcohol counselor in Oroville for Behavioral Health: Youth Services. I'd hold group sessions in my office or an adjoining room, and about every other day I went to the juvenile hall and counseled the kids there. It was a burnout job. I did it for almost 10 years. 

Oh, yeah. That's hard, hard work. Emotionally challenging. 

Oh, yeah.

So it sounds like you've always kind of had a path of being some kind of a counselor.

Yeah, I look back on it and think, yeah, that's right!

Well, I think that's all I have for you. Thank you for sharing. I feel blessed to have met you.


You know, you're part of our Kai community over here. 

Exactly. Exactly.


You can connect with Don through his company ZYZZX DESIGNS: The Last Word in Creations From Nature

To listen to some of his recordings, please go to Spotify here: and here:

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