Owl Haven

I love our new apartment. Condo by the beach. Whatever you want to call it. I call it home.

The exterior is straight-up 70s with a fake, jagged flagstone walkway and mezzanine. (We call it the mezzie, lol) It’s sculpted or stamped cement with painted grout lines. This collection of condos has a horseshoe layout, but horseshoes are lucky, right? Brady Bunch styling, dirty-brown doors, flat roof with shingled, shallow gables. It looks like any roof from a 70s fast food eatery or miniature golf/arcade complex. But it’s surrounded by lush, well-kept palm trees and tropical flowers. Well-trimmed bushes and exotic vegetation. Rock garden with multiple pristine spiral-shaped shells. AND when you walk through that dirty-brown door? The entire interior has been remodeled. New carpet, new appliances, new vanities, new bathtub/shower. New ceiling fan. New granite countertop in the kitchen on top of??? The same old cabinets. Wah-wah. The cabinets are well-worn, but clean-ish. I can work on that. Who has dazzling cabinets? “Put your crap in and shut the door! Worry about it later…or not at all,” is what I tell myself. (Which is something I never tell myself!) Everything else is too beautiful to care. I am not complaining!! Plus, the beach. Sigh. I’m not going to be in my kitchen enough to care what the cabinets look like inside.

I love the old feel and design. New apartments don’t feel like a home. They feel like a big rectangle-ly box with lights. A space that you must carve out on your own. Some people love that. And I get it. But new apartments come with problems, too. Like badly installed plumbing and sinks. Like thermostats that tell YOU what the temperature should be. Like drunk people at the pool. Most Missourians that I’ve met assume Florida is one, big Margaritaville where everyone relaxes on the beach or at the pool with a lady cocktail, tiny umbrella skewering multiple citrus fruits and olives. They pretend to be Floridians by the pool, downing mas cervezas and burning their skin until they’re a dark-golden, fried Twinkie. They don’t do that here. At least on our beach. We go out after 4 pm. We wear sunscreen. We don’t drink on the beach. And we don’t have any tiny umbrellas. It’s usually just our little family of 3 on the beach. It’s nice. All to ourselves.

New apartments come with noisy neighbors. I haven’t heard one person make a peep here. Except a few workmen during the day downstairs. I’m sure it’s different during the busy season. But we have 6-8 months of peace.

At my old apartment, I had a rude upstairs neighbor who used to dance on my head. Dance is too graceful a term for what she did up there. It’s nice not having Twinkle Toes on top of me.

Our apartment building feels like a summer camp dorm on a lake. When all the campers have left. I feel like a kid again on vacation. I feel like I did when we stayed at the Owl Haven Motel in Stockton, MO.

The Owl Haven. Kitchenettes. Wood paneling. Outdoor pool! The Owl Haven still stands.

We stayed at The Owl Haven a few times. Once or twice as a kid, once when I was a bit older, a teen.

I loved it. It was one of the few times that my dad would venture on vacation. He usually had 4-6 weeks off during the year as he was a long-tenured diesel mechanic. He worked at the same company for 25 years. It was a hard job, but came with a few perks. One was a good amount of vacation time.

I think my dad loved fishing. He at least loved being near water. Maybe love is too strong a word for a man like my dad. He enjoyed it. As much as a man with 2 young, noisy kids could enjoy the logistics of making our way to the lake.

It was a 2-3 hour drive. Most Kansas Citians (and KC suburbians), at some point or another, make their way south to enjoy the lakes in Missouri. Truman, Bagnell Dam, Osage Beach, Ozarks, and Stockton. I never heard many kids talk about Stockton as their vacation retreat, but as I said, we went there more than once.

Beautiful. Serene. Not a lot of people. That’s what my dad liked. Not a lot of people. He liked having elbow room. At the dinner table and in life. We moved to 14 acres when I was 5 so Dad could have some elbow room.

He liked being outside, but he also liked A/C. He kept the air conditioner so low that all you had to do, if you were too hot in the summer, is run inside, lay your face down near the floor vent and let the air blow on your hair, teeth and eyeballs for about a minute. Good as new. And he kept the shades drawn most of the time. Our dark-wood paneling and drawn curtains made the inside look like…well, The Owl Haven! lol

The Owl Haven offered an outdoor pool. A coveted asset of the 70s and 80s. In-ground complete with a diving board and slide. For a south-Missouri motel to have such a delightful treat was mind boggling. How? Me want.

My mother allowed us to go to the pool if our older brother went with us. Can we go now?

Can we go now?

Mike?? Can we go now?

We finally went.

Within minutes of being in the pool. I threw up. In the pool. I don’t know why, but I did. It could have been because I just had lunch? It could have been because I usually swallowed a bunch of pool water on accident? It could have been because I was so excited and keyed up for swimming that I bubbled over? I don’t know.

I wasn’t the kind of kid who threw up. Quite the opposite. If it went down, it stayed down. Forever. A lot of food went down, too.

I hated throwing up. Still do. The awful feeling of knowing your insides are about to come outside. I fight it. I fight it for hours. But this urp came out of nowhere.

I just remember everyone being completely disgusted. Mainly because it was chunky. Sorry.

Mike made me sit out for a while. THAT was excruciating! I’m very near a pool and I can’t go in. What a living hell. Cool, clear water. Slide. Diving board. Water, pools and swimming were some of my favorite things. Especially water you could see through.

I didn’t so much like swimming in a pond. We had a pond at home. Turtles. Frogs. Spiders! One summer, our pond had hundreds of dead spiders curled up and floating on the surface. Very strange. But I still went swimming. That should tell you how much I like swimming. I swam with hundreds of dead spiders. Gah!

I eventually got back in the pool. Perhaps when my mom finally arrived. The cold water took her breath away when she dunked herself and her hair back. I thought she had hurt herself. No. Just cold.

“It’s cold??” I thought.

I never felt sick and I never threw up again that day. So strange.

My mom would make balonie sandwiches in the kitchenette. We would take a johnboat out for fishing on the lake. Smell of gas from an outboard motor on the water. Watching Dad steer the boat. Being quiet and watching the trees on the shoreline. It was peaceful. Fun. An adventure. And I feel like that all over again at our little Owl Haven.

Thank you, God, for such an opportunity. I’m so happy.

apartment
There’s that fabled, gabled flat-top roof, but look at that sky! Sigh.
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Message in a Bottle

Last summer I wrote a letter to a friend and placed it in a bottle. I hadn’t seen her in a while and it was great to reconnect. I wanted to mark the occasion for her and show her my gratitude and love. She traveled a great distance physically and emotionally to arrive at my door. That day and her whole life, really.

I wanted to share part of the letter because I like the words so much and I wanted other people in this community to hear it. Everyone needs a reminder of how magical they are. This was written for my very brave and strong friend. But it’s a note for everyone who struggles and wonders, “Have I made a difference?” Or simply, “Does anyone care?”


If a message in a bottle is hope?
Then You are a message in a bottle.

A story carried on the waves of life.
And your message has reached my shore.

But you are so much more
Than one message in a bottle.

You are a thousand messages,
In a thousand bottles.
Touching shore in a thousand places,
Because your story is hope,
A letter full of love and grace.

Thank you for sending out
and sharing your message.

You’ve touched hundreds of hearts.
Probably thousands.

And this is a reminder
of that very awesome fact.


I love you, my dear. ❤

Siesta Key

SANDALS SAYING


My family and I took a much needed vacation. We haven’t been anywhere for 7 years. We’ve been sick, poor, bankrupt and moving for the past 7 years. So, it was nice to finally get away for 1 week in our favorite spot-Sarasota, Florida.

Great beaches: Venice, Turtle, Siesta Key. Great food: Phillippi Creek Oyster Bar (try the Seafood Stuffing). Great people. It’s so laid back and fun there. We had a great time. Finding a cheap hotel on spring break was challenging, but we found a great hotel down south in Port Charlotte. A drive, no doubt, but clean and affordable. It doesn’t matter where you stay as long as your in driving distance of Siesta Key Beach. Voted best beach in the USA, that is not an exaggeration. Powdery white sand, clear water and shells to scavenge. Also! the best sunsets the Gulf has to offer. Although, Turtle Beach, just down the key, is Shell Central. We found so many. I stepped on a very large fish scale the first morning we went shell hunting. Totally intact.

Great to be back though. We stopped at Fantastic Caverns on the way home to KC. Here’s all our pics. Plus, some pics of our 2009 getaway. Those are the best sunsets.

bird friend 2.jpgMy bird friend who just had to fly over and get his pic taken. He was so close! 2017
Turtle Beach

bird in flight.jpgBird in flight 2017
Turtle Beach

hermie.jpgMy husband’s hand. Baby hermit crab. My daughter found him in the surf. She thought it was a shell, then he poked his head out! So cute. We put him back to live and swim another day!! You can call him Hermie. 2017
Siesta Key Beach

parasail 2.jpgParasailing (not us!) 2009
Siesta Key Beach

sunset 11.jpgBoat, birds and sunset 2009
Siesta Key Beach

lilli beach.jpgLilli, our daughter (6 years old), on Siesta Key Beach in 2009.

fantastic 10.jpgMy favorite shot. Fantastic Caverns 2017

giants.jpgGiants, Fantastic Caverns 2017

fantastic 1.jpgFantastic Caverns 2017

stage.jpgThe Stage in the Auditorium. Performers used to sing and play in the cave. This was the stage they built so long ago. They wouldn’t let me get up there and perform??! Why not? LOL
Fantastic Caverns 2017

fantastic 6.jpgSoda Straws, Fantastic Caverns 2017

Great vacation, lots of fun times. No speeding tickets, no accidents. Road trip to end all road trips. A few bruised egos along the way, but no permanent damage. Visited many places, saw many things. Had such a great time.

Glad to be back in my own bed though. 😉