Wife

The clothes are washed.
The dishes are done.
Everything’s finished.
The course has been run.

To its bedtime,
I race the sun.
Hoping to remember,
“Leave nothing undone.”

But I fail.

I failed to love you
More than you deserve.
I failed to catch you
When you leapt off with nerve.

I failed to respond
With kindness and restraint.
I succeeded in failing
At withholding complaint.

I’m sorry.

It’s not a matter of racing to the end.
It’s not a matter of winning at life.
It is a matter of walking with purpose.
It is a matter of being a good wife.

I’m not a good wife to you
If I focus on all wrong you have wrought.
It would be better of me
To remember all good you have brought.

Thank you.

I struggle with fairness
And relinquishing grace.
I like to hold grudges,
Call attention to mistakes.

I’m trying so hard to be Perfect.
And I’ve missed the boat.
I should try harder to be Forgiving.
And erase the past someone else wrote.

I love you.

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knee-deep

This is not the surface of Mars. But I wish it was. A sci-fi Bradbury story and not my life.


Scared and Scarred
I am 6. Tender. Overly sensitive. Idealistic. In the living room watching TV (listening to my parents scream).
My father is chasing my mother from the bedroom to the living room. She sits on the sofa by the window. He grabs her leg and drags her from the cushion. Her pants rip and she awkwardly falls to the floor, pinned between the sofa and coffee table.
My brother jumps up and tangles himself with my father. My brother is 17 and a full-grown male. He might be one inch taller than my father. He weighs less, but not by much and has anger and youth on his side. They wrestle and fall into a window. The glass breaks and the fighting continues. They push each other away and stand panting and snarling, waiting for each other to make a move.
My brother walks out of the house into the yard and my father follows. They exchange violent words and my father threatens to stab my brother. He holds his hand in his pocket, standing at a distance from my brother, claiming to have a knife.
I will cut your gizzards out.
One of the many delusional things my father utters. It makes little sense. He is embarrassingly profane and foaming at the mouth. He taunts my brother to attack again. I can’t remember how it’s resolved.
Sometime later, I crawl up on the sofa to look at the broken window and wonder why our afternoon was disturbed. I cut my knee with a shard of broken glass hidden in the cushion. I still have the scar today. It looks like a soggy piece of puffed rice
cereal landed on my knee and stuck.

The cut was deep. Huge beads of blood. The emotional hurt was even deeper.


Complex PTSD is real. This memory was written in present tense to show how real memories can seem. You can relive some trauma at the slightest trigger: smell (cigarette smoke), action (washing hands), word (gizzards), threat (humiliation), similar circumstance (injustice). Reliving some nightmare from the past isn’t easy. In fact, it’s soul crushing. Mind melting. Scariest thing a person ever has to do–walk into the past like a darkened, grimy hallway of a forgotten house of pain. With no skills, lights or way to defend yourself. Anyone with C-PTSD does not want to be permanently haunted with ghosts. But the mind can’t erase severe hurt. It tries, but those imprints have power. Evict those ghosts with the Holy Spirit and this link: Self-Help Strategies for PTSD Visit this site as well: AnxietyBC

And get help. Talk to someone. Anyone.
This weekend I realized–I am serving my past, not my professed master Jesus. I am serving horrible memories and failing as a wife. I don’t want this. My past is not something to cling to in the storm. Jesus is.

88

Slow down, you move too fast.

I met a gentleman this morning with the most lovely accent. From Virginia. He was 88. I could listen to him talk all day.

I knew moving into this driving job, I would meet interesting people. Aromatic people, talkative people, desperately lonely people. But I had no idea I would meet magical people.

“I just need to stay alive and keep a house going.”

That was his mantra all morning long.

Two things to keep in mind when you’re 88:

  1. Stay alive! (very important)
  2. Keep a place going (also very important)

Survival and shelter. Can’t argue with that.

I carried him to Winn-Dixie to get some groceries. From here on known as grosh. As I helped him out of the car and into the store, he kept reciting things he would be doing. He was full of helpful tips and practical suggestions. To everything he stated, to affirm I was listening, I replied, “Smart.” and “Good idea.”

He would reply, in the most charming Southern drawl, “Smart?! Only way to go as I see it.”

I love you, sir. Let me help you with your grosh.

Two things to keep in mind when you’re 44 (exactly half his age, that would be my age):

  1. Stay alive
  2. Keep a place going

Got it. Smart. Only way to go as I see it.

Bug’d

I’ve had a rough couple of days. It all started on July 4th.

My family and I had planned to enjoy the beach and chill in the late afternoon. The whole day until that point was relaxing and fun. Just relishing time off, watching Netflix and the occasional conversation. Then, around 5 pm, we headed to the beach. *cue the Jaws theme*

We got in the water and it was warm! So wonderful. Like bath temperature. It was awesome. We let the waves rock us back and forth in the shallow shoals and we searched for offshore seashell treasures (say that 10 times, fast) underwater.

My husband got out, it was a little too warm for him after a few minutes. My daughter and I stayed.

As he sat in the cool breeze and warm sun, a stranger approached. He was the friendly sort. From a distance, they looked like brothers. Salt and pepper hair and beards. Stocky frame. Too old guys chatting.

While they were small-talking, I found, with my big toe, a beautiful, rare-colored spiral in perfect condition. Beautiful dark brown and spiky top. it looked like it had been polished out of wood. I had to show Guy.

spiral

As I approached their group of two, I overheard their Guy talk. πŸ™‚ Just weather and “Where ya from?”

I am dubious of most strangers, but I thought this extroverted chap was a bored/boring beach-goer making polite conversation. And then. The point emerges.

“Yeah, uh, are you all going to sit here for the fireworks?”

“Yeah!” Smile.

“Oh, yeah, uh, I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind, I was going to use the wood as my fireworks platform.”

“Oh.” WTF? His beach-boy, native-Floridian accent (think: potsmoker) suddenly got worse and his overall minute charm evaporated like a wisp of Florida rain clouds.

We were sitting near a wooden structure that supports a pipe. It’s our favorite spot. And this yahoo wanted to use it for his own personal fireworks launch pad. Which you’re probably not supposed to do since we have sea turtles on our beach. The noise and light will frighten and disorient them. They even paint over the condo lights on the beach side so they don’t get confused. And they were having the big boomers at the jetty just about a mile away. Some people.

I have to participate in the blowing up of stuff!

The round, wood pillars on the wooden structure, where we were sitting, act as little table tops right at chair height when the sand is tall and the pipe isn’t flowing.

When we first got to our beach a month ago, we wondered what the pipe was for. It was a little foreboding and we didn’t go near it. Being a land-locked country girl, pipes were usually for smokin’ or sewer waste. But then we figured, that pipe is probably for excess water runoff from the streets. So waste water, but! Relatively clean waste water. Why would the city of Venice pollute their own ocean? They wouldn’t. I know. Tourists! Land lubbers!

So, today, the pipe was not flowing (no rain for a coupla days) and it was full of sand. The hill was high and so, our favorite spot. And now this guy! He wants us to move? On our day to relax?

“My wife told me not to ask.”

Smart wife.

“Yeah, yeah, it’s fine. We’ll move down after my husband goes to work.” Guy had to work that night. Security never sleeps.

“Oh, shit, man, you have to work?? Oh, man, I’m sorry.” At least he was apologetic. For something.

“No big deal.”

And it wasn’t a big deal. Just a minor annoyance. Shoulda known. No one is that nice for no reason. Cynical, I know. But, in this case, it was true.

Then a storm blows in from the east. Right over our shoulders. Sudden shower. No lightning, so we ride it out. It stops after a few minutes. Cool. It was fun to sit in the rain on the Gulf. Something new! It was quite refreshing.

It was finally time for Guy to go in and shower before the fireworks. He had to go straight to work after the show. So we said our temporary goodbyes. Lilli and I stayed for a little while longer and watched the setting sun. I wanted to snap a few.

NO SD CARD! Ack! I forgot my SD card for my Nikon. I remembered to haul and protect my expensive digital cam to the beach and I forget the friggin’ SD card. I’m sucha dope. Oh well. Just enjoy the sunset.

Several minutes go by and another stronger storm, first storm’s big brother, whipped up and we heard the thunder. Bye! Couldn’t see the sun any more!

We high-tailed it back and sat under the carport in our neighbors’ parking lot. It was coming down hard and we still had several hundred yards to go. Plus, we needed to hose off (we have an outside shower and hose) before coming in, even though the downpour was shower-strength. Sand goes everywhere. Everywhere. Only the hose knows.

That was also fun. Knowing we were not in danger of being struck (Were we? I guess a little) and just watching the dark sky, clouds and rain come down. Waiting patiently for it to subside. And it did.

We hosed everything off: us, the cooler, our shoes. Thank you for your discretion, Hose! Then we headed up to sit on the porch. Resolved to miss the fireworks. It was a long day and IDC about fireworks. Plus, it wasn’t clear if the storm had passed.

We met our new neighbors on the second floor. They had just arrived and were opening their condo. She introduced herself and then her husband.

“Come on down. The fireworks start at 9 pm.”

And before I could explain that I knew, that my husband was going to work and that we were tired, she was beckoning again. “Come on! 9 pm! See ya there!”

“Sure!” Bye, Crazy. LOL

Guy was done and agreed with Neighbor Lady. We could probably make it and now the clouds had moved on.

“Okay.” I could not deny my eager family their fireworks fix.

So we go down to the beach. We stay back from the water, in the dunes, near the path. I get over 10 mosquito bites that won’t get aggressive for several days. They are just now blossoming into full-on Zika zaps. 😦 (Idk why skeeter bites wait for a few days to really itch!)

I don’t have Zika. Yet.

Then, my camera won’t pick up the fireworks, but I enjoy them anyway. There were clouds, miles off the coast, competing for the light show. Bursting with strikes, lighting up inside like a brain firing synapses. It was truly awesome.

<NO PIC TO SHARE, USE YOUR IMAGINATION> lol

Then we head back, say our goodbyes for the night and Guy goes on to work. Lilli and I head upstairs, she jumps in the shower and I proceed to get sick on the kitchen floor. Too much wine and Chex Mix. Plus, a long, warm day with warm skin and too much movement. Now I have to clean my kitchen floor, take a shower and clean the rest of my house. NO! I’m done! Plus, I’d already been cleaning my house earlier in the day. This day will never end!!! But it did.

I finish with everything about 1:30 and I crash hard. A very satisfying crash where your whole body relaxes upon hitting the sheets. And you know, you’re going right to sleep. Sore, but cozy. Warm, tingly skin from the sun and sore, tired muscles from working. Good night!

Then. Yesterday. I had an interview. It was at 10 am. I thought it was for 1 pm. I called to ask if I could still make it, but as soon as I heard her voice I knew. Don’t bother. They hung up on me. I think it was an accident, but I didn’t even attempt to call back.

I really screwed that up. That would have been for a cardiologist only a few blocks from our house. I don’t even know how I did that??

I’ve been busy. That’s my only excuse. But at some point, it felt like God saying, “Let it go.” So I did.

I feel so jumbled sometimes. There’s much to be doing now. I’m still unpacking. Looking for a job. Cooking, cleaning, juggling, writing! Rearranging our whole lives. Registering Lilli for school. Tags, license, grocery shopping. I start my driving job tonight.

I was supposed to start yesterday, but he called to say I wasn’t on their insurance yet and I might not start for another week. Shoot!

Just one of those things. We need that money, too.

But then he called just a few hours later to say the insurance company took care of it, rushed it through and I can start tonight. Phew. Good deal. Bacon saved.

Oh well. I’m still here. I’m still alive. I am thankful for busy-ness and chores. I am thankful for relationships and people. I am thankful for A job, if not THE job.

Please pray for me. I need it. I don’t want to screw up this job. I want to take it seriously and help people. But also, pray that I find the right job for my graphic design skills. Soon. Thanks.


Sometimes you find a shell with your big toe.
Sometimes you get zapped.

Gonna Getchu

I’ve explained to my husband several times. “I’m gonna getchu, Sucka!”

I’ve been threatening to catch up to his weight for a while. Idle threats from a 456+ lb. thyroid cancer victim.

“I got time!” he supposed.

Well. I’m here, Sucka!

I am at 321.4 today and I’m breathing down your neck, Guy! HEEHEE!

I’m a very competitive person when it comes to my husband. I think it’s because I’m an Aries. Or just a jerk.

I don’t like competing with strangers. Just my husband. It’s because I admire him so much and I want him to admire me. So I have to beat him. At everything. I’m so sorry, honey!

He is my equal. My peer. The funniest sonuvagun I’ve ever met. I want him to think the same. This is my Aries persona: I must best him. Crush him. NO! JK! I just want to impress the man. He’s hard to impress. Aries is attracted to someone who is better than they are, but then they try to outdo their partner. I’m just so crazy. Egomaniac.

Every time I update him with my weight loss, I see, at the same time, excitement and terror! He knows how close I am. He squeals with delight and sheer hole-puckering fright when I tell him how much I’ve lost every day. I love his glee and equal gloom.

Thanks, Guy. For helping me. Caring for me after surgery. Watching me suffer with your hands tied. Listening. Wiping my cold-sweaty brow. Sharing CPAP duties. Taking me to the ER when my guts were open to the world. For just staying. For almost 19 years. I love you so much, dear. You’re my sun, moon, stars. I don’t deserve you, but I’m thankful for you.

AND I am, in fact, coming for you. Get ready!

Loving-Kindness

According to Wikipedia‘s article regarding loving-kindness in Judaism:

Loving-kindness is used as an English translation for the Hebrew word Χ—Χ‘Χ“ (chesed). This term is used often in the book of Psalms, and refers to acts of kindness, motivated by love. It is used primarily in reference to God, rather than people. One example is found in Psalm 107, where verse 43 reads:

“Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the loving-kindness of the LORD.” [11]

The term is also used in Pirkei Avot, with the quote “The world stands on three things: Torah, the service of God, and deeds of loving-kindness.”


I’m not a very kind person sometimes. I am downright irascible (easily angered).

I love the word irascible. It reminds me of a word that Mark Twain would utter about Pap.

I love words. No matter their meaning, good or bad. Especially when they perfectly define an attitude, feeling or experience.

I mumbled yesterday morning about applying my makeup for an interview. “Best apply a modicum of makeup, so as not to look a fright.”

Who talks like that? I do. Mostly. Enough to confuse and irritate the natives. Much to the cringe and chagrin of my associates.

“Who are you?” question my befuddled, and mildly-impressed, acquaintances.

A writer.

But I found another person who loves words and their sounds as much as I do and I married him. And together we sound like a ridiculous Noel Coward play. But some people like that.

As much as I love words, I don’t love people. I am not full of loving-kindness. I cling to loving-kindness with desperate fingers, but cannot claim it. I want to love others but I so often fail. Strange. Because I think, at the core, writers do love people. Maybe from afar? I have to love people to love words because the words are describing the lovely people. What the people are doing, where they are going, how they are loving or not loving.

Maybe I should write about animals. LOL

Loving-kindness, as a theory, is often a writer’s goal. How often they achieve loving-kindness IRL is a Hemingwayan mystery. We write about the ideal, but do we live it? I don’t usually. But, in my writing and in life, I strive for it. Is that enough though?

I do tend to write about my successes of loving-kindness and not my failures. I try to be fair in that, but writing can often be the Facebook of experience. We only see the shining examples of behavior and not the gritty underbelly of daily meanderings.

Well, in the interest of writing fair, I fail at loving others, especially my husband, on almost a daily basis. That’s the truth. I snap and snip at the slightest pressure, but mainly because…no. I won’t make excuses.

I can be a ripe jerk.

I’m an alligator. Waiting. And if you trip? I attack.

If you trigger my snap warning, I’ll eat you alive. Once an alligator bites, he can’t let go. Even if he wanted to. And why would he want to? Those jaws are locked. And loaded. Clamps down on your neck, thrashes around, and down you go. Drowned. Ground into a fine hamburger. If you whimper, complain, or try to negotiate? It’ll just take longer.

I don’t want to be an alligator. But when you grow up in a swamp, do you have a choice?

I’m evolving. At least I feel guilty about it now.

I have brilliant moments of loving-kindness shine through and save me. For others and from others. But maybe that’s most people’s experience. Those are the moments we live for. And when there’s not enough of those moments, sometimes, what we die for.

In a world of growing hate and difference of opinion, we most certainly need loving-kindness. Certainly. But if I can’t succeed in my own daily life, what hope does the world have?

We’re evolving. Let’s drain the swamp and love others. Simply and completely.

I can’t eat another alligator. Someone I recognize as being my kind. So we just have to look for the human. How can you hate someone who looks and acts and thinks like you? We all have eyeballs. We all have fur. We all have 2 arms, 2 legs, a brain and a heart. Usually. πŸ™‚

With all my anger, flaws and ugliness, I still want to be loved. So I need to love. Even unlovables in their anger, flaws and ugliness. And do so out of kindness. It requires vulnerability and humility. Being open and humble.

Who are you?

Take Heart

Psalm 61:2 (NIV)
From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

OR this version which is much cooler and grammatically correct (LOL):

GOD’S WORD Translation
From the ends of the earth, I call to you when I begin to lose heart. Lead me to the rock that is high above me.


So, like, bring me to a higher place, a higher ground. Right? High above me. Like, way up there! Pull me up!

But about losing heart. Losing nerve. Losing courage.

It’s hard to be brave when you’re playing chicken with job satisfaction and basic human needs. Right?

Justification upon justification says, “Pay the rent. Enjoy air-conditioning. Eat food.”

And Jesus said to the rich man, “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.Mark 10:21

Gulp. He didn’t say anything about A/C and paying the rent.

But this was the rich man’s stumbling block. The thing that kept him from God. The one thing he wasn’t willing to do. Walk away from his most precious accomplishment. His most closely-held ideal.

Jesus knew that. He knew the man’s heart, the core of what drove this man every day–get money, things, wealth and power. And Jesus challenged that. Like he does!

The man was rich. You don’t wake up rich, I’ve tried. You have to really bust your hump to get it. You may even have to screw someone else to get ahead. In fact, most definitely.

The passage ends with sadness. The man is deeply sad because his eager heart is confronted by his unmotivated flesh. The account reads, “…the man’s face fell.”

So, his face was all “Yes! I love you Jesus! *SMILES* I’ll do anything for you, just tell me, ’cause I don’t know what to do with all this intention and I’m so excited by you!”

Jesus: Give it all up! Walk away from everything you hold dear. Be like me. Live on faith.

And then, his face was all “That’s the worst news I’ve ever gotten.”

I’ve been there.

This is hearing from Jesus:
To a porn addict: Just come on over to church when you get that whole porn-sex thing figured out.
To an overeater: Stop eating so much and I’ll see you over here!
To a gun collector: Yeah, sell all those things that make you feel safe and powerful and then follow me into a really bad neighborhood.

Uh. What?

Yeah.

I don’t think Jesus was telling the man do this or you can’t hang out. He was saying, “Oh, you want the answer? You won’t like it. It’s not easy!”

He was explaining. “The road I choose for you and the path you’re on don’t merge. Getting to my road isn’t going to be easy. It’s complicated. And you’re going to have to let go of everything that is materialistic. Can you do that? Are you still happy and eager?”

It’s like hearing about this job that you can have where all the best versions of life come true and you have everything you’ve ever wanted emotionally, financially and physically. But you have an hour commute. Or the job is on the other side of the world. The neighborhood is rough. Or there’s no neighborhood…on the other side of the world!

Have everything you ever wanted, but here’s the price: giving up everything that ever made you feel comfortable.

It’s like losing your heart. Losing the very thing that you thought made you tick, motivated you, drove you, inspired you. And you find out, all along, you were ticking to another machine. A greedy, oily machine that disgusts you. But you can’t live without it.


It’s much harder when you’re making decisions for 3 people and not just yourself. I’m married with one child. That’s a decision I made a long time ago and didn’t even have to think about. Yes! A thousand times, yes. Give me those choices, over and over, and I’d give the same answer–yes! Yes, to my husband. Yes, to my baby. Yes, to a lifetime of laughter, love and fulfillment.

But I have wandered this lonely planet for years in search of the right “job” for me. Because wife and mother doesn’t pay very well. πŸ˜‰ I would love to be a writer who gets paid to spit wisdom on paper. I would love to work from home doing graphic design, photography, acting, writing, creative stuff. But nobody pays you for that. Or if they do, it’s not enough to pay the bills.

I would actually love to serve a mission before I die and help others. Live in a hut. Roll around in the mud. Haul water. Build things. Take showers outdoors. Not take showers at all. Meet people. Love on people. Stinky people.

I know that comes with many challenges. Sickness, loss, difficult physical conditions. No luxury! And how can I choose that for 2 other people?

But if I know anything, those moments are the ones we live and die for, the ones where we feel most connected to other humans. We don’t clean and count our possessions. We see and touch and talk to other humans. What are we living for if not God’s people, each other, our neighbor?

Things are nice. Things are really nice. Comfortable. Secure. Reassuring. Downright luxurious. But I don’t think God created us to be comfortable. Right? Idk. Most of the time, following Christ has moved me out of my comfort zone. Which I hate. But what does a person accomplish in their comfort zone? Even internally?

I’ve never truly loved another person inside of my comfort zone. My husband regularly pushes me into Uncomfort Zone. Being a mom isn’t always comfortable. High rewards in both relationships, but I am often challenged to love without limits. But I don’t want to!

Loving cute little babies and sexy husbands is easy. It’s when they aren’t so attractive that makes it a challenge. “Hey, Babe, do this thing I know you hate just because I like it.” or “Hey, Mom, drop what you’re doing and come help me.” Sigh.

OR

My husband said to me the other day, “Triggered!” Which is our shorthand for, “Leave me alone, I can’t deal with your issue, get off my back! Back up off me, Bro!!” And I hollered back, “Me triggered!” And he just softened so much. His eyes changed to deep compassion and empathy for me. At the drop of two words. He was way outside his comfort zone and loved on me. That’s marriage. That’s being outside of your comfort zone and loving.

Dropping your life, your issue, your house, your car, your bills, your ego at the door and following Jesus. Loving without limits. Driving to the bad neighborhood and helping. ‘Cause where else do they need help except the bad neighborhood? Doing the crummiest jobs because who else is doing them?


I have a chance for a job and it’s everything I always wanted. High emotional satisfaction, working for a nonprofit that espouses Christian beliefs, helping poor people find housing, using my graphic design skills, photography and other creative talents. 100% health and dental benefits. But it’s in a different part of town. It’s a drive for sure. But exactly what I want. Probably very rewarding. But I haven’t been offered the job. I’m in the initial stages of interviewing.

BUT! I have a job offer on the table. Office work. Part-time. Nothing glamorous. Not really in my field. A little, but it’s mainly answering the phone, scheduling rides and data entry. Some social media perhaps.

What do I do? Hold out for the perfect job? Or take the first thing I can get? I feel confident that I will have a job before the end of this month or next. (Unless I become famous for blogging, retire early and eat coconuts. LOL) Do I wait? Do I take the okay job and then quit when offered the full-time dream career? The okay job made it clear, “People come in and then leave me in a lurch, and I just need someone who’s gonna stay.” In light of that very explicit detail, I don’t want to start and then bail when I get something better.

I have been out of the traditional job market for so long, I don’t know what to do. Ethically and idealistically, my gut says don’t take okay and wait. There doesn’t seem to be a clear answer. But we need the dough. The perfect job isn’t so perfect either. There are drawbacks. But it’s my field of graphic design. I’ve waited so long to do what I went back to school for. Ugh.

What do I really want? What do I need to do for my family?


I’ll figure it out. But this is hard. Deep breath. Don’t spiral.

Take heart, be brave, find courage. Follow Jesus. Get dirty. Love without limits today. It’s just that easy!

LOL No. It’s hard.

But try it! It’s like climbing a rock. πŸ™‚

You can be lead to that rock.
But you have to decide to climb it.
But you don’t have to climb it alone.

Lead me to the rock that is higher than me!

 

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.

Raise Your Sails

Republishing because I needed something positive this morning. Hope you need it, too. Don’t lose hope. You’ll survive. Even thrive. Just. Move. Forward.


Fix your eye
On the endless sky.
See the light behind the storm.

Raise your sails
For the new-found sea.
Un-anchor from the shore.

Find your wind.
Begin again.
Don’t linger in the shoals.

You’re the one
Who will feel the sun.
Ride the wave wherever it rolls.

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. πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™‚ 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.