“Casa di Martin”

🏡 Casa di Martin 🌳

“Casa di Martin”

When speaking about our travels, we should also speak of the places that we called “home.”

~~~Ricky West~~~

The major home of my childhood was “Casa di Martin…”

Casa di Martin is a two story mansion, settled in the verdant hills of Orinda, California.


This is the man who designed, built, and lived in Casa di Martin.

My father, Martin. I have named Casa di Martin in his honor.

Martin graduated in Architecture from the University of Oregon. He then went on to remodel or build nearly forty houses in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Dad did it all, He would draw the designs and then have a hand in every aspect of the building. Carpentry, plumbing, electrical work, landscaping and terra-forming are all parts of Martin’s legacy.

Being Martin’s son, I have been around tools, design, and vision building for my whole life. When I was 12, I started working with my dad and spent many of my summers helping build Casa di Martin.

For Dad, Casa di Martin was his dream home. It was that type of project that all artists have: the big expression of talent that artists seek to make reality. Dad’s design of Casa di Martin was inspired by the architecture of Tuscany. Hence, I gave the home’s nickname an Italian feel too.


Growing up at Casa di Martin…

I lived in Casa di Martin even before it was fully constructed. To give you readers context, my family moved into this house for tax reasons and had to made do using an outhouse and showering at a friend’s home or at the gym for five months. Made me appreciate a good bathroom, I’ll tell you.

Living at Casa di Martin was luxurious in ways. I had a beautiful home, a full acre of space to explore, dance, and do what I wanted. However, my family’s experience was unique. Most people who live in homes like this have loads of money and can afford to employ cooks, gardeners and maids. Since my my family was a middle class one that built its way into living in a mansion, we had to do all the work ourselves. Living in a mansion is not all sunshine and rainbows when you have to maintain the grounds personally.

When the great recession hit the USA, I was in college. Partly due to the recession, I returned from college to help my family survive the recession’s effects. For years my family worked to improve the grounds of our home to keep its sale value up. We would work long hours, then clean the whole house every day. Finally we would have a pain pill and glass of wine to end the day.

We sold Casa di Martin to another family in 2014. We lost a lot of value to the recession but the sale gave my father a comfortable retirement, my mother a decent sum, and allowed me to pay off all my student debt from college. To this day, I have nearly no debt and I am very grateful.

Moving to smaller homes was a reprieve for my family. My father and mother separated soon after the sale and we three went our separate ways. All of us enjoyed having simple homes that were not so exhausting to live in.

It has been five years since then. A lot has happened but I still feel the peace of not having student debt. I remember my childhood home. Gratitude for the experience is what I say about Casa di Martin.


A gallery of our old home:

Travel
"Looking at blue skies"

🇦🇺 Two years after Melbourne 🦘

"What are you looking at?"

Two years ago today, on 7/7/2017, I left Melbourne after living there for six months…


Do you want to read the cliff-notes of my visit?


Two years and six months ago, I flew there on an exchange semester. At that time, I was a student of San Francisco State University (SFSU). A member of the 1st group to study at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT). Not only were we students, we were ambassadors. Our behavior would be the foundation for a new relationship between the two universities.


I lived in the city of Melbourne, province of Victoria, country of Australia.

This city is one of my favorite cities in the world! The people are social and easy to meet. Public transportation puts Californian transportation to shame; I did not drive. The innovative city design, Yarra River, surrounding cities and Great Ocean Road were all so wonderful to behold!


Getting more micro: I lived in Brunswick, a suburb 30 bus-ride minutes north of the city.

I lived in a quint home with 5 housemates. I was the only US American in the house. My housemates were from Australia, New Zealand, and Turkey. We got along so well! Often we would have drinks together in the back yard and talk. Occasionally, we held BBQ’s!


During my stay I was elected as a Social Ambassador for RMIT!

I got a week’s worth of rent money and the opportunity to seek out experiences in Australia and tag RMIT (#RMITglobal). Thank you RMIT, I am so grateful for those experiences…

What I did as a social ambassador:

Found beautiful graffiti in the city, watched an AFL game at the Cricket Ground, spotted unique stores, and visited the museums! ArtVo, the Melbourne Museum, and the Immigration Museum were amazing!


My sweet mother, Pamela, gave me a great gift that year: a vacation with Extreme Adventures ~ one fish two fish!

A trip in Queensland that began in Brisbane and ended in Cairns.

We spring-break students traveled north on a ten day trip, sleeping in hostels each night. We traveled through the Australia Zoo, Rainbow Beach, Fraser Island, the Whitsunday Islands, Whitehaven Beach, the Tully River, and the Great Barrier Reef.


What a thrill! I bungee jumped at Hackett Cairns!! The most moving part of the trip was Raging Thunder – Xtreme Tully at the Tully River.

There was light rain dripping on the river as we rafted through a tropical forest. Being there evoked childhood memories of watching Disney’s the Jungle Book, dreaming I was Mowgli living in the wild. It felt like adventure…

So much fun!!! I felt as though I crammed a year into my six month AU visit…


A part of Australia stays with me, do you want to know what it is?


The feelings of family I have for the friends I made in Australia. Many of us were fellow travelers, experience and marveling at Australia together. This is my Australia family! The people who made me feel at home so far from my land of birth…


To my friends:


Thank you! Two years ago was a formative time in my life. I look forward to seeing you again as we travel through the world and life. Long live the super mega fun team!

Travel