Heaven

If this isn’t heaven, then how good is heaven??

clouds.jpg
From the beach: clouds over the ocean

Love this beach we have here.

beach.jpg

Feel so lucky. Where are you, guys??? LOL Why aren’t you here???

 

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Skink-a-do, Skink-a-don’t

There are little lizards all over the outside of our condo. Even a few baby ones on the inside! Eeek!

skink
Inflated neck skin and all! Adult Skink on our porch this morning

We have seen two baby skinks (that’s what we call them, IDK if that’s the scientific name) in the kitchen. There are so gosh darn cute, but not for inside cohabitation. We trap them under a cup and slide a piece of paper under the cup. Then we scoot them out the door. Then we burn the cup. (LOL JK) Did I say we? I meant, my husband. They are fast and squirrelly and lizard-y. Trap and release! No harm has come to these creatures except possible emotional trauma from being trapped by a screaming giant.

We see skinks every day here. They often inflate their neck skin like the weird little dragon dinos from Jurassic Park. Then they do a little hip-hop dance where they bob up and down. Pop and lockin’ like a dance troupe on America’s Got Talent. Go, Skink, Go, Skink, it’s ya birthday. Shiboy Skink-a-Freak!

I love these little critters, but the babies gotta stay with their mamas. They like to scurry in the space between our front door and screen, so we are on constant skink watch when we go out to the mezzanine. They change colors. They appear to be light, almost white and the older ones are sometimes black, sometimes dark greenish-brown.

Fascinating. I don’t get squeamish when I see them scamper about outside, but when the little ones wiggle in, I freak out! Housewife on the chair, like every Tom and Jerry episode with the 1950s lady in heels and an apron (WTF??! who’s doing laundry or dishes in heels??) in the kitchen or dining room, on top of some piece of furniture. “Get it, get it, get it!”

I saw a third baby skink try to wiggle in when a workman came to fix our bathroom. Thankfully, he caught him with his clipboard and scooted him out the door before he camped out underneath our sofa. Phew.

I tell you this–I’d take a baby skink over a dirty little field mouse any day! We had mice at our house in KC. NOPE! Mice are so gross. They poo and pee on everything. The world is their toilet! And buffet. I seriously considered burning the house to the ground and starting over when we had our mice problem. Gah!

I imagine the little baby skinks crawling all over us at night. Skitting in and out of our open mouths and ears. I know. It’s probably not happening. Probably. But haven’t you heard about how spiders like to sleep in your open, gaping, snoring, moistened mouth hole at night? Like the statistic about how many spiders you actually swallow during an entire year? Have you heard about that?? LOL

Please, Skinks, just don’t.

Blustery

It was a sunny, blustery day on the coast yesterday. We went to the jetty and photographed the white-capped waves (rare) breaking on the rocks. The clouds were magnificent! It was an unusual, but beautiful day! Windy!!

We saw an apathetic surfer riding the waves yesterday. They were that strong. For this area, very rare.

Purple

This picture I snapped with my cheap camera phone. Sorry the quality is not great.


My mom’s favorite color is purple. Graphic design majors and professional artists might pucker when they hear the word purple. Red-violet or violet is the correct term. Or lilac. Or lavender. Or anything but purple. Accuracy is vital.

But if you ask Mom what is her favorite?

The color purple! (the color, not the book, movie or musical) 😀 Altho, I’m sure she likes those as well.

Right, Mom? It’s still purple, right?

Well, we found this purple house on our island. It’s a huge house at the north end and my mom would love it. Maybe. She’s more of a purple-wearer than a purple-house-owner.

The further south you go in Florida, the more colorful the houses become. 🙂 True of the personalities you find here, too. lol

Mom, we thought of you when we saw this house. It’s gorgeous and glorious. Unique and different. Enjoy!

Rainbows and Ice Cream

Photo credit: Guy Maggio


Thanks, Venice Avenue Creamery! After we stopped in for a dessert, we were treated to some actual rainbow sprinkles on the way out. It’s all sunshine, rainbows and ice cream down here in beautiful Florida. 🙂 Try the lemon sorbet. It’s lemon-ninny!

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.

Moved

Haven’t written in a while! Finally moved, halfway through unpacking. Got internet service back! Phew. Feeling like a human again.


I knew I wouldn’t be able to write on the way down to Florida. That bothered me a little. I was driving through Missouri, making our way toward St. Louis to head down south, and I could feel the pull to write. That was cool, but at the same time–anguish. I have blogged so much lately, I couldn’t process my feelings without writing them down. All I could do is think and form perfect, evaporative sentences that would vanish with the miles behind me. You know, what non-writers do while driving. 🙂

I relearned my pre-writer meditation of sorting out problems and quieting voices without written letters. It was hard to adapt, but accept it I did. It was frustrating at first, but I settled into churning waves of beach-pounding thoughts of what-if and what-not. Regret, remorse, remembrance. Sorrow, love and forgiveness. For myself and others. A photo album of feelings to flip through while Florida-bound.

The rest of the time was spent talking to my daughter, laughing about silly signs and license plates and even having the dreaded chats about sex, physical maturity, venereal disease and tampon use. UGH! Hard conversations in a car with your teenage daughter while looking for the nearest bathroom. Road trip!

It was great though. Except for Nashville traffic. The highway interchanges in the bowels of the Country Music Capital of the World were hellish. I almost crashed my car and caused my husband to crash the U-haul truck and trailer he was driving. Not fun. But we had to keep going. I was confused, tired and snarled in traffic with my husband behind me. I just wanted to stop, but we were behind schedule and had to make it to Valdosta, GA that night. We only made it to Dalton.

My husband and I agreed to stop and rest. He rose before us and headed out early from the motel. God bless him. I don’t know how he did it. I was not able to catch up to him (I could go faster than he could with a truck), but he made it here to Florida just a little late. He’s my hero for that. We (mainly he because he had the truck with our stuff) had to meet the movers and he hauled house to get here. No speeding, no tickets, no accidents and our furniture made it with only a few scratches. I’d rather my dining table legs suffer a few scrapes than any of my loved ones.

We followed up just a few hours later, but the movers were already done when I got here. 10 minutes before I rolled up to the door. The timing was perfect because if I had to look at the messy back of a truck any more, I would flip bat-guano-crazy out. Movers paid, showers taken, food eaten, lights out.

Here are some pictures of our trip and first week here in sunny Venice, Florida. I am so happy.

martha laughing
A little out of focus, but Lilli’s first time shooting a human subject. Not bad! And I love that I’m smiling so big. Happy to be out of the car for a few moments on the road.
taking a break
Taking a break on the curb at random gas station. Happy to be out of the car as well!
eyes in the bush
Lilli took this one! Cool! Looks like eyes in the bush. Yikes! It’s some intersection stoplights though. Phew. 🙂 Good shot! Nice bokeh!!
lilli park palm 2
She’s a Floridian now!
happy
My uniform. I am not beach-body ready, but it gets hot! Gut bare, don’t care. Too happy and busy to worry about what I look like to others. I’ve seen worse.
raccoons
Aggressive raccoons! Stealing fellow beach-goers unsecured snacks. Dang! Funny to watch, but the picnickers were nervous and irritated. Lock up yer snacks!!!
guilty raccoon
Filthy, guilty raccoon. But so darn cute.
green rocks 2
Have you seen anything so gorgeous? Rocks below beach platform we viewed the Gulf and sunset at Caspersen Beach (shark tooth capital of the world?)
guy beach
A rarely-requested snap for his mates back home. Truly at peace. :*
sunset 2 marino beach
Gorgeous sunset from our private beach.
sunset marino beach
More.
sunset marino beach 3
*Angels singing*
wonky shot sunset
I love this wonky angle.
sunset almost gone
Almost gone.

My daughter watched the sunset; she was still and quiet. As we got up to head home, she looked me in the eyes, “I am so thankful to God.”

Not to me. Not to her parents. Not to anyone or thing but God. That touched me so deeply. That’s what you want to hear as a parent. Not pats on the back of “You’re the best, Mom.” But deep-down gratitude to our Savior and Provider.

I am so thankful to God, too. Glory be.

Bye-bye, KC! We love you.

The sun sets on our time in KC.


I’ve lived in KC my whole life. I was a proud Missourian. I will always be a Kansas Citian, deep down in my heart. And I will always bleed blue. ❤ Royals!

My time in KC will be a love letter. One that I read over and over for the rest of my life.

KC, you made me. Cradled me. Rocked me to sleep on the shores of your streams. And carried me down on your soft, rolling hills. Sweet, cut alfalfa in the spring and hickory smoke in the fall. Worlds of Fun. Town Topic. Fort Osage. Grain Valley Eagles. Hair curlers on top of Bartle Hall. And friends. And Mom.

I won’t forget you. In fact, I will miss you. Deeply.

I’ll miss your flowers and birds. Your trails and trees. Your friendly people and amazing places. BBQ and steak done right. Your simple way of doing things and your down-to-earth/down-to-business demeanor.

But I won’t miss your snow, ice, roads, bridges and freezing temps. Sorry. LOL

It is time for us to go. We will now be beach bums in Venice, Florida. 400 yards from the ocean and sand. Every time I get near the ocean, I feel like I’m home. I can breathe here. I can relax here. I can LIVE here. It’s certainly a fountain of youth and tranquility.

I love you, KC. But the beach got me like dis.

turtle beach red hoodie

We are moving today. I haven’t said anything because I couldn’t handle the enormity of it. It’s a relief to finally say. We love you, Friends, Mom. We’ll be back for visits. Wish us well. :*

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. 😉