DonnaHi, I'm Donna McMaster, Sam's mom and webmaster for a bunch of web sites, including the Coloma Valley and American River sites. I first discovered the Coloma area in 1987, when I learned to kayak on the South Fork of the American. At the time I was living and working in the Bay Area. After growing up in rural Oregon, the congestion and traffic of Silicon Valley was just too much for me. In 1993 I bought a few acres of land along the South Fork, and later took a few years off from my high-tech career to build a house there. I kept a journal of much of the house project: "Building at the Ledge."

Building the house was a good learning experience -- mostly I learned that it's easy to let the budget get out of control. Due to cost overruns, I had to go back to the Bay Area once again to pay the mortgage. After only a few months down there I was let go. The loss of my job was very tough to accept but in retrospect I realized that it a great gift. I hadn't built a house along the river so that I could spend all my time working down in the Bay Area.

oaks by the riverSo I sold the lovely but expensive river house. It was devastating to walk away from the home that had been my dream for nine years, but I felt I had no other choice. At the time, I considered moving back to Oregon to be closer to my family, but I worried that I would just be running away from my troubles. So I made a commitment to stay in Coloma at least two more years, and bought a fixer-upper on 1/3 acre in a great Coloma neighborhood, closer to the state park and practically next door to some of my best friends. Not having the big mortgage was such a huge relief.

Almost three years later, after lots of waffling, I finally decided it was time to return "home" to Oregon. I chose Corvallis, the heart of the Willamette Valley, because it is close to my family and it's a beautiful small city. Oregon State University offers cultural diversity; the downtown area is nestled into the confluence of the Mary's and Willamette Rivers; and there are miles and miles of green space surrounding this safe, quiet and well-maintained community.

I made the move in January, 2005, and five months later am still "moving in." For many years now I have been making a living designing, building and hosting web sites, under the name Coloma Communications. And of course I still spend too much time doing volunteer work on my pet sites (like this one) and for the Coloma-Lotus Chamber of Commerce and the Open Directory Project, where I am known as "coloma."

My latest personal creative efforts have centered around Brego, where I attempt to explain why the Lord of the Rings books and movies -- and actor Viggo Mortensen -- have made such an impact on me lately. And last year I wrote my first fiction, a story based on G.I. Jane, called "Rematch." (I used my maternal grandmother's maiden name as a pseudonym.) I enjoyed it so much, and got so much encouragement from my readers, that I am now working on a novel. Wish me luck!

Sam

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The Ledge

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