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!
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.
This is me. At 25. I had just met my husband and we were starring in a college production of Busybody together. It was a brilliant time. No wonder he liked me. 😉
This is a face for the stage and screen! lol
And here’s my hubby. I think he was 28 or 29. We’re so lucky.
Even though I carefully cradled you
*Camera on Board*
I dropped you on your eye.
Sorry ’bout that.
You’ll be okay.
You have a permanent scar, however.
Eye still works.
You’ve taken me places
I only dreamed were true.
You’re so important to me
And I want to capture you.
But you take all the pix.
How can I take a picture that does you justice?
You’re too good for selfies.
I’ll steal your soul with this shot.
Camera phone is jealous of just how good you are.
Thanks for the memories. Friends for life.
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.
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.