This has been my family since the beginning of June. I’m going to miss them over the next few weeks as I go back to Middlesboro, but I’ll be reunited with three of them a bit sooner than the pretty lady in the cowboy hat.

One person has made Ventura, California my home for an entire summer. I’ve been staying at a five star homestead, complete with the following:
* complimentary breakfast
* lunch and dinner
* bedroom (shared by Ed)
* living area complete with recorded Planet Earths
* wireless
* excellent patio
* pool, hot tub (with abusable hours)
* parking
* laundry
* separate bathroom from our host
* BBQ grill at my disposal and complete kitchen
* flower garden to provide excellent nature pictures for our spare time
* complimentary wine
* garage for camping equipment storage
* occasional dessert (not to be confused with the desert that surrounds most of the beautiful California you’ve seen via this blog) from our host’s cousin. If you’re ever in Ojai, I recommend swinging by El Camino (it’s one of the many roads with a huge freaking tree taking an entire lane up) and seeing if Penny has anything cooked up. You won’t regret it.
* our personal concierge, in the sense that we had access to someone who has lived in this area for most of her life and has helped us with advice on everything including parking at this concert we’re going to tonight, roads to avoid and things to try.

If you’ve had your coffee today (Red Bulls, energy pills and yoga are interchangable with coffee I guess), you’ve probably realized that this is more than you get at any hotel. The most important part of where I’ve been staying can’t be crammed into a little bullet so the following ramblings will have to do. But more significant than anything I’ve mentioned, because honestly you could probably get a little less than half of these down at the Crown Plaza if you paid enough, I’ve had someone that I’ve come to love and, like I said before, will miss more than the entire state of California.

Martha and her cat Pug. Every evening the light comes through Martha’s house perfectly to light up her face to make beautiful portraits like this one. I love her house. If I won the lottery today, I’d be buying her house next week. Or at least as soon as I could get my lump sum.

Martha Jansz took us in without knowing anything about us. It wasn’t until after I had already sent her an email about Dave that I found out she didn’t even know Dave. She took more of a chance on us than we did with this stock photo company (which I’ll be honest didn’t bring in any money for us). Martha has opened up her home to us and honestly made me feel like I’m at home when I’m here. From the first day she’s said to make ourselves as if we were home. We joked and said, “We appreciate and respect you too much to do that.” So she said, “Well OK, pretend I’m your grandmother and treat my house like you would hers.” When we were in Death Valley, sweating through everything we had, all I kept hearing from the backseat and occasionally said myself was, “I just can’t wait to get back to Martha’s.” This is home out here.

This house has been our refuge. When we didn’t want to do anything but lounge around and eat frozen food, we came here. After a long morning or night of shooting it’s always been nice to come back here and crash in our own little areas we’ve claimed (which if you’ve been reading Ed’s chair has been heavily competed for by Keith and Elliott since Ed’s departure). I know I keep saying this, but it’s because it’s just how I feel. I’ll miss being in the comfort of this home more than I will this state.

When Dave started talking about bringing us out here he talked about renting a big house and all of us living together. It wasn’t too long before the price of housing in Southern California quickly changed our plans and we weren’t given much choice but to look elsewhere. Dave stays with one of his Western student’s mother (you know Penny) and that’s how we were arranged to stay with Martha.

At first, it didn’t sound like a comfortable situation, mostly because we didn’t know the loving lady we would be staying with. All we knew was she lived alone and had an upstairs. Well, the first part was true but we didn’t find out she lived in a one story until we got here (which doesn’t matter at all since we’ve taken over an entire end of the house, but does suffice an example of how uninformed we were).

This is the first time I realized the excellent light that pours through the house. Unfortunately for this photo I caught it just a little bit too late. But this is our area. I’m sitting on the love-seat. I’ve basically claimed it for me and my giant computer. This isn’t where Ed usually sat, but he joined every now and then to watch Planet Earth or any other show about some poor helpless animal being shredded to bits to feed the predator’s family.

Martha is a witty and loving person to be around. Her personality has clicked so well with ours that being with her is more important than actually doing anything for the past few days. We’ve all made promises of a visit next summer if she’s still in Ventura. For her sake, I hope she’s not; I want her house to sell. When it does, she plans to move to Arkansas until she is able to move to Canada with her daughter. After she is comfortable in Canada we’ve all told her to get ready for another visit from us. As Keith goes into the real world and the rest go on to do whatever, it may be hard to go together, but I feel like in our own time, we’ll all be able to reunite with Martha, no matter where that is.

I already can’t wait to see her again.

Disclaimer: In the main photo you may have noticed Martha is wearing a cowboy hat and holding a beer can. Truth be told, the hat isn’t Martha’s and neither is the beer can. Martha in fact doesn’t own any hat of that sort (to my knowledge) and doesn’t drink anything besides hot tea. Despite Elliott being above me in the photo, he is still several inches shorter and hasn’t grown any since reaching the Golden State. Also, Ed may have a fantastic patchy beard in this photo, but I hear it’s gone and he is actually a good looking guy.


3 Responses to “Martha”

  1. Having these four young men here visiting has been absolutely the most wonderful time for me. They have been polite, helpful, and fun. They were guinea pigs for 3 carrot cake recipes that cousin Penny and I made. They trimmed the tree branches off of my roof. They took out trash, emptied the dishwasher, cooked (and cleaned up after themselves), fixed the dryer hose, took pictures (lots) of my cats and made me laugh and laugh! These guys have been raised by wonderful parents and you should all be very proud of them. They followed all my rules and were very cooperative while my house was on the market. I have made life long friendships that I will always value. And, their pictures are fantastic! Brad deserves an extra big hug as he was the “go to” guy for most things. He also did most of this blog which shows his writing ability! I love them all, hope to see them all again and will keep in touch. Everyone said I took a big chance when Dave said the guys were really good kids but I took a leap of faith and never looked back. From day one it was like we were family. If I were their “real” grandma I couldn’t be more proud!

  2. […] Elliott is in effing Idaho. And Keith will soon enough ship off to Tennessee. All I want is to see Martha, Dave, Greg and Penny. I feel so selfish for saying that, because next Thursday I leave to embark […]

  3. […] Elliott is in effing Idaho. And Keith will soon enough ship off to Tennessee. All I want is to see Martha, Dave, Greg and Penny. I feel so selfish for saying that, because next Thursday I leave to embark […]

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