Sunday, October 21, 2012

Missing Mom.

Six months ago today, we lost Mom. It hit me out of nowhere, literally a tidal wave of grief. It was like I had been run over by a truck carrying a spaceship while walking through a tornado holding an elephant. It was rough.

And while most days I feel like I'm still in the thick of it, I want to both mourn her and celebrate her on this day. For my friends and family that could not make it to Mississippi in April, her eulogy is below. Although it is the hardest thing I've ever written, is it also the most meaningful. I share it here in honor of her.

Help me remember her on this day, in your hearts.

Dear friends and family, for those who I have not met yet, I am Pablo, Randi’s fiancĂ© and Glenda’s son-in-law to be. Today, Randi and Bobby have asked me to read a few words they have prepared to honor Glenda, and so, I share these thoughts with you:

We are so thankful for all of you here today to help celebrate our mother’s life and mourn her death. Mom would have been truly in awe at the pouring out of support and condolences we have received over the last few days from those who knew both her and the Ellison family well. It is through your memories and ours that she will be remembered.

Glenda began her life in Austin, Texas, the first born to John Rayford and Bonnie Ellison. She was followed by her little brother, Mike Ellison, her sister, Gaye Ellison Joiner, and as a teenager, her baby sister, Dawn Ellison Allen, who deemed her “Nana” – a nickname each of her nieces and nephew came to call her by, and what she would have been known as had she lived to see us have children of our own. Mom loved her siblings fiercely and wholly, and we know she would have truly enjoyed growing old with them. We find comfort in knowing that our Aunt Dawn, who Mom missed so much here on Earth, was there to greet her in Heaven when she arrived. In addition to her siblings, Mom had such fond childhood memories of her many cousins – the Higdons, Wrights, Coons and Ellisons. To each of you – Mom was so honored to call you not only her companions as children, but her friends as adults.

Mom was truly one of the most determined, strong-willed and focused people there was. She did not lose an argument. And if that argument was with John Rayford, well, heaven help everyone else in the room. Beyond his debate skills, she also inherited John’s love of learning, his ears, and his love of his family. Da, Mom would want us to tell you how much she loved you, how much she was looking forward to being here with you in the twilight of your life, and how much she wants you to get out of that dang chair and go for a walk.     

As for our Ganny, what greater role model for Mom to have for being a mother than that of her own. Bonnie was truly her hero, and we simply do not have words to describe the grace and the strength that serve as a beacon for the rest of our family to gravitate towards in our time of grief. The loss of the child is not an emotion you are wired for, much less the loss of two, yet our Ganny stands strong for each of us. Ganny, we know that Mom would do anything to be able to walk across the street one more time for lunch, or pop up in her makeshift room at your house and say “Good Morning, Mama.” If there’s any peace to be had in Mom’s death, it is in knowing that she has left us in your very strong hands. Mom loved you so very much, and our love for you is only strengthened by the loss of hers.

To our Uncle Mike and Aunt Gaye and to their spouses Julie and Tim – we know how much each of you meant to Mom. The five of you together were a force to be reckoned with. Honor Mom in your lives through the love of your own children, our cousins Taylor, Nicole, Robert and Elizabeth, who she truly loved being Aunt Nana to. We would be remiss if we didn’t mention how much Mom loved Bridgett Chisolm, her surrogate sister, and Bridgett’s family Richard, Conner, Morgan and Matthew.  Bridgett’s presence in the Ellison family over the past 15 years has helped fill a void in a manner hard to articulate and to us, Bridgett, you are more a part of us than you’ll ever know and we are blessed to have you. Aunt Gaye, we know how humbled Mom would have been at the strength, dedication and devotion you showed to her in her final months, even if she did not have the words to tell you herself. You selflessly put your life on hold for her, day in and day out, and I know she was honored to call you not only her baby sister, but her very best friend. She would not want you to be sad for her, but instead to help everyone else remember the person that she was.

Finally, beyond being an amazing daughter, sister, aunt and friend, Glenda was simply “Mom” to us. Without hesitation, she would tell you that her greatest life achievement, her grandest adventure, and her proudest role was that of our mother.  In fact, when meeting any of our friends for the first time, she rarely introduced herself as Glenda, but instead as “Randi’s Mom” or “Bob’s Mom” – and for the past 27 years, that was her identity. We were getting to the stage in our lives where our relationships were transitioning from that of our mother to that of our friend, and we will fiercely miss that friendship more than words can say.

Mom didn’t have many clear moments at the end, but by the grace of God, the morning of her death was one of them. She told Randi she was looking forward to her bridal shower in two weeks and asked about Bob’s new puppy, Chance. She told us that she missed us and loved us and we got to tell her the same in return.

We are burying Mom today in the dress she was to wear at Randi’s wedding 39 days from today. Although she won’t be in New Orleans with us, we know she will be wearing that dress in Heaven, beaming down on us from above (and probably crying, as she did at the drop of a dime when it came to being the mother-of-the-bride). One of the last gifts she gave to Randi was her wedding dress, something she was so proud to be able to do. We selfishly grieve for ourselves that she won’t be with us, but more than that, we grieve for her, because we know how much that day would have meant to her. Beyond that, we know that Mom would have loved to be a grandmother. We were blessed with a glimpse of her in that role in how she loved her great niece, Kaylee, and we mourn that our children will never know how much she anxiously awaited them.

During the last month of her life, Mom didn’t talk much. However, on Easter Sunday, Mom had a good day, and was able to tape a video message to us. Her words of advice are great ones to share here. If you know Randi and Bobby, you’ll understand these next words well: “I’m the Mom. Randi, plan your life well. And Bob, just do good work.”  So to our Mom, how lucky we were to have you, how heartbroken we are to lose you, and how deeply we will miss you. We love you, we’ll plan accordingly, and we’ll try our best to do good work. Thank you, Randi and Bobby

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Magic-Maker

Today's a big day in our world, and we'd like it to pass by noticed. Remember a few months ago when I told you we were, with a million qualifiers, putting in an offer on a lot? Well, that happened. And then several more things happened, and a few more, and then we arrive at today.

Today is the day that this empty lot....

...begins the progression towards this not-so-empty house.

And we're stoked.

"What have these goons been doing for the last four months then?" you may be asking yourself. Oh, raha.

Sullivan Brothers markets their homes as "customizable." They probably understand that as this: "Please, by all means, make a few tweaks." We, on the other hand, heard this: "Go ahead and redraw the plans entirely." Ok, then, I accept your challenge and raise you a guest house. To that end, we've spent the last four months redrawing, repermiting, redrawing and repermiting. And we're finally there. The dust has settled and my crazed red pen has been put down. Here we go! (Mario Cart, anyone?)

Goose and I have known from the beginning that we wanted professional help in undertaking this project. Our sanity and our jobs demanded it. Mostly my sanity and his job. After much research, we landed on Laura Dalton of Laura S Mitchell Interior Design. She's been with us almost from day one. She's been amazing. So, so amazing. She listens to my crazy, filters and edits, and spits out a realistic version of said crazy. It's pretty much like magic. She's also not afraid to tell me when my Goose's ideas suck.

Laura and some of her beautiful work.
In classic me-style, as soon as I have a concrete plan in mind, I am obsessed with it. Couches and wallpaper and landscaping and guest towels and staircase spindles and curtain boxes are all I can think about. I wake up in the night to count throw pillows in my mind. So, I've been in full-out "Let's decorate the new house!" mode, much to Goose's terror. And terror beware, because this past weekend was Round Top, the greatest show on earth.
Off to the races....
This fair happens twice a year and is ranked as one of the top in the country. I will move hell and high water to make sure my weekend is clear every six months. This time, I tricked Goose into coming with me. I was immediately regretting my decision when he vetoed me thirteen times within the first six minutes. And that's when I called in Laura, the magic-maker referee.

We spent the day texting her pictures of our "finds." She spent the day editing the crazy and talking me down from the "But I neeeeeeeeeeed the eight-foot tall painting of a 17th century Dutch man named Charles" ledge.

Here's Charles....and upon second glance, I'm sad he didn't come home with us. I mean, look at him...what a stud.
Post-edits, here's what we collectively came up with:

My Men Friends
These are the start of a collection of antiquated old men portraits. They're both over 150 years old and the canvases look like they've seen a fight or two. We'll be looking to add several more to the collection for a wall in one of the guest rooms. (And Nin and Monique, as the two most likely guestroom dwellers, you do NOT get a vote. The old men are staying. Just close your eyes and pretend they aren't there.)

Goose's Men Friends
We bought a collection of the Vanity Fair Gentlemen series from the late 1800s. Our initial thoughts were that they would go in the library, but I think they're cool enough to warrant main-house status. And, yet again, that's where Laura comes in. Thank goodness for the magic-maker.

The Dog/Lady/Native American Chairs
The carvings on these chairs are what sold us. Your guess is as good as mine as to what they actually are, but my bet is on the Dog/Native American combo. The dealer, who was very French, reminded me that Native Americans are, alas, American and most-decidedly not French, so I was probably incorrect. What the little French man doesn't know won't hurt him.

The Waltzing Duelers
The purchase of the day (century?) goes to these awesome English dueling swordsmen. They're 17th century instructions on how to properly (and gentlemanly) conduct a sword fight. And they have pointed toes and amazing variations of blue/green/turquoise dress, so how could we possibly say no? And to top it off, the dealer was a Mississippi man whose accent was music to my ears. And he was wearing a massive 1980's gold chain, so, um, obviously.

Thus ends our gold-house-in-a-nutshell update. I promise these will be few and far between. Unless, of course, they're not.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

What are the odds I can talk Whataburger into delivering?

Friends, it's official: I have entered the previously unknown land of the middle aged....I have had my 10-year high school reunion. **Gasp.** That's right, over ten years ago, I walked across the Frank Erwin Center stage and graduated in a nasty maroon polyester gown from the glorious Round Rock High School, home of the mighty (fighting?) dragons.

I hope this comes as a surprise to at least a few of you (and if not, then I have COMPLETELY failed at my attempts to disguise my very dominant inner nerd), but I was Senior Class President. Part of that commitment includes the understanding that you will lead the charge when it comes to planning the reunion celebration.

January of 2002 version of me: "Oh, surely I won't be doing anything of any real importance ten years from now. I can handle, no problem."

January of 2012 version of me: "Mother of all things holy, are you KIDDING me? I have to plan a reunion?? Now??? Of all times???? Can't we wait a year...or ten???"

In my defense, if I thought ten years ago that I would be planning a massive destination wedding, grieving the loss of a parent, moving  a Goose and practicing law during 98% of my waking hours, I would have scratched that line out of the contract. But alas, that's the way the crazy world turns.

Luckily for me, you, and the other 92,353,098 people we graduated with, the axis of the earth titled towards two very capable co-hosts. I don't typically name people on the blog, for fear that you'll cyber-stalk their awesomeness, but I MUST, MUST, MUST point out that this weekend was only made possible through the hard work, selflessness and dedication of two of my very sweetest friends: Erica (of "She's not really flipping the bird" fame) and Casey. If you're a RRHS Class of 2002 alumni, their allegiance you owe. Case and Monique, it hasn't been said enough: Thank you so, so, so very much. You each did an amazing job, and Saturday was something that you should be proud of. This picture is also something that you should be proud of:

This has absolutely nothing to do with this post. It just makes me laugh. And it has an antelope, so obviously.
I grew up in Round Rock, a city consistently named as one of the best towns in America to have a family. And there's actually a massive round rock in the middle of the town, so we win on literalness too.

Saturday morning, I jumped in the car at the crack of dawn and headed West. I called E as I left Houston. I hung up with E as I pulled into Round Rock. That's right, we chatted for the entire three-hour drive. We tend to have lots of opinions about lots of things, what can I say.

As a side note, as you remember from here, my parents just recently sold my childhood home so I was crashing at E's parents for the night. (Who, by the way, were at South Padre Island with my parents for a weekend of even more middle-aged fun. They tend to lead by example.) If I had a dollar for every childhood memory of mine that included the G homestead, I'd be a rich, lucky lady. I was there so often, in fact, that I claimed a bed in the house as my own. I could have moved in without a suitcase and still managed to clothe and bathe myself for 17 days due to the amount of stuff I kept there. If we were at all attempting to recreate our high school memories (and my hangover on Sunday suggests that we were), this was probably the best place to stage them.

E and I then proceeded with a frantic three-hour dash of pickups around Round Rock: the cake, the flowers, the balloons, the squish-it-all-in-slip.

She insisted on trying it on in the aisle. Oy vey, I can't take the crazy anywhere.

We then hit up an oldie-but-goodie RR legend: Pok-e-jo's. I begged E to choose something else, but she wasn't having it. You see, even when I have a dress to fit into for a "I don't want to look like a fat kid" event, I C.A.N.N.O.T. resist Pok-e-jo's fried okra. Or Texas toast. Dangit. So, I acquiesced, ate the fried okra and toast, and sucked it all in for the rest of the night. Success on both accounts, I'd say.

Reunion-time. Being the general cynic that I am, I was pretty positive the night was just going to be filled with awkward conversation after awkward conversation. That was before I remembered that there was wine involved. Raha! Win. Honestly, as soon as the room filled with so many people who I spent a lifetime with, a lifetime ago, I was at ease. These people know me, and I know them, and there is comfort in that, even if it was wine-laced. I was so proud to see my childhood friends as happy parents, successful professionals and adorable spouses. They reminded me of crazy times, happy events and peaceful growth, all of which I needed to recall.

Shall we end on a high note? I was awaken at 6:30am Sunday morning by Ted, E's dog, throwing his fairly large body across mine. I didn't have the energy to remove his tongue from my face, nor the strength to turn my own head away from his. There was a drum-playing gospel choir singing in my brain and my first thought, other than "Must.Move.Head." was "What are the odds I can talk Whataburger into delivering?" My mascara was smeared down my face, my car was parked in a neighborhood other than the one I was in, and I had zero clue where I had taken off my wedding rings the night before. (Goose, my father and my pride would like me to clarify....this ins't a state I'm often in, nor is it one I'd like to revisit anytime soon. Exceptions must be made, though.)
Ted, the second handsomest puppy ever. (Behind Paxter, of course.) 
An all-around golden success, I would say.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Blackberries and Butterfly Crack.

Have you forgiven me as agreed? My second bout of radio silence indeed accompanied another batch of late nights and long hours, but here we are, resumed as promised. And before we get going, let's all acknowledge that this post will not meet my previously stated attempt to limit personal tellings on the blog. It is, after all, called "A Girl and A Goose." I win times infinity.

Goose started his new job two weeks ago. Since then, we have worked a combined 300 hours. I lie not. Which means the majority of our time together has involved shaving, teeth brushing, hair curling and passing like two ships in the night.

This weekend, the clouds parted and our blackberries were silent (which causes another problem all together - crap, is my blackberry broken? how many test emails should I send myself from my iPhone to make sure it's working? am i crazy?). And although what we really wanted to do was catch up on our lack of sleep, we made a point to celebrate our 104th day of marriage (it's a big one, obviously) and enjoy Houston together.

Speaking of ships (baha), I've been dying to go see the Titanic Exhibit at the Natural History Museum. Every since I read Danielle Steel's "No Greater Love" at like age 13, I've had a morbid fascination with the boat. If you're not a Danielle Steel fan, you should be. (Goose and I had the discussion one time of how she's probably one of the most successful American writers of all time, for better or worse. I think better. He thinks worse.) Spoiler alert: "No Greater Love" includes a love story, people dying, and hopeful redemption. Oh, that's not a spoiler? Every Danielle Steel book meets that definition? Veird.

I digress. The exhibit is a celebration of the 100th anniversary of Titanic's sinking and includes hundreds of artifacts pulled from the boat's debris field. The exhibit was, indeed, pretty cool and fairly well done. BUT, and this is a big BUT, I think I should be hired as a comma consultant for their future exhibits...the sentence structure in the explanatory writings was so overwhelmingly WRONG, I couldn't half read the wall disclosures without gagging. My OCD brain just couldn't see past the misplaced commas, lack of periods, and double/triple spaces in mid-sentence. Self-diagnosed freakazoid.

We then wandered around the newly renovated Paleontology Hall. Have we met? If so, you probably know that I explain the pronunciation of my maiden name (which, come on, it sounds just like it looks - let's not get squirrely here...) is akin to the pronunciation of "Dinosaur." Did you just do it in your head? See, totally sound the same, yes? Moral of that story in case you missed it: I love dinosaurs.

Let's connect those dots to probably one of the greatest movies of our generation...A Land Before Time. If you haven't seen it, you should be embarrassed, and then you should click on the picture below. Then come back.

"Poor, poor Petrie."
Seriously, if you didn't click on the picture, stop now, do it, and come back. 

Now that you've seen the clip, you know that our firstborn yorkie, Petrie, is not named for a scientific dish (seriously?), but instead for a baby pterodactyl. Our Petrie is way yiddler than this guy:

Prehistoric Petrie.
A few more from our grazing. All I can think of when I see these pictures is Ross Geller. Best TV character of all times.

Ross: Does little Ross like dinosaurs by any chance?
Mr. Zelner: Yeah, they're all he talks about, why?
Ross: How would he like to come with me to the Museum of Natural History after everyone else has left, just the two of us, and he can touch anything he wants?
Ross: I just heard it as you must have heard it and that's not good. Let me start again. I'm a paleontologist, you'll be there with us and the touching refers only to bones - fossils!

And then on to the Butterfly Conservatory. Which should be called Crack for Type-As. This thing was so peaceful, Goose and I walked in and just stood there. Literally stood there.

Goose on butterfly crack.
Please note my husband's butterfly handout. He loves lists and checking things off of them, including the butterflies he has seen. Goose, sorry for any street cred that was just damaged in that disclosure. Sorry I'm not sorry.

Then we had to start moving, because they keep the massive rain forest simulation at a sweltering 80 degrees and 123% humidity. Hot yoga in your clothes, anyone?

Please ignore my man hobbit feet. I tend to have small limbs and large appendages.
Oh, and then a butterfly fell out of a tree, thudded at my feet, and made me cry. Butterfly crack does weird things with your emotions, I'm telling you.

We rounded out the day with Torchy's Tacos, a Boardwalk Empire marathon, and puppy snuggling. I opened the back door and fired up some fall-smelling potpourri on the stove. I thawed a batch of homemade gumbo and popped a bottle of our favorite wine.

Petrie, the non-scientific dinosaur dish, and Paxter.
It was, after all, our 104th day of a glittery marriage. And our blackberries were silent.

P.S. Goose said the gumbo tasted like rubber. I win.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Is Wallpaper Weird?

This will be a quick one, mainly because saying things out loud help me either cement their awesomeness or quickly highlight their ridiculousness.

As I've mentioned before, we're in the process of building a house. With that comes the ability to make certain decisions. Lots of decisions.

Including this one: Is Wallpaper Weird?

I grew up in the 90's and my design aesthetics have mostly been shaped by the 00's, both of which were generally devoid of wallpaper. And color. And most definitely colored wallpaper. But, as I have begun the process of designing our house, wallpaper continues to creep into my consciousness. It won't let me sleep at night, I'm telling you.

Here's what's been on my mind....a little of this:
And a little of that:

Right? Don't lie, you're kinda loving it too. All of these wallpapers are by Quadrille. I die.

And if you're not loving it, let's cover it in glitter and pretend this conversation never happened.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

[Insert really long time period here.]

I hate blog posts that go like this: "Sorry that I haven't posted for [insert really long time period here]. I've been busy with [life/love/happiness]."

You're not going to find any apologies here, friends. Truth of the matter is that I sometimes in life, I just have to work a lot. Like, a lot. I love my job and love my firm, which is why it is bearable. But it also means that when I am in the depths of a deal, I will go radio silent for weeks on end. 

So let's agree this is how it will go: You will miss me, I will miss this blog, and then I will come back. Deal? Deal.

Here's how my radio silence becomes bearable - during my two weeks of insane work, I also managed to sneak in a quick trip to the northeast where Goose has been training for a few weeks.

Not to be Cheese McCheeserson, but New York City is such a special place to us. At this time last year, we were seriously planning a move to the City. For one reason or another (sweaty faces, lack of closet space), we decided to stay in Houston instead, but we try to visit as much as we can. To the extent you find it remotely interesting, here's a quick rundown of what I did.

Thursday - I worked. Rats. One of the great things of working for such a massive firm is that it is pretty easy for me to pop into one of our other offices as a visiting attorney. So, I spent Thursday in our NYC office, visiting with our NYC attorneys. Our office also happens to be on 5th Avenue in an amazing shopping location. So, rats again.

How's a girl to resist this outside her door?

I scooted out early on Thursday afternoon and walked the city. I left 100+ degree heat in Houston for the mid-70's there. I win. I met up with one of my bests, Face, for a girl's night. Face and her husband are some of our absolute favorites - both in NYC and in the universe. One of the major downfalls to deciding to stay in Houston is not getting to see them every single day. (Which is how often I would be stopping by, because Face always makes us great drinks, and Winston, their bulldog, melts my heart.)

We met for drinks in a bar we've been to before. It wasn't TGIFridays, so that's always a plus. We chugged a bottle of white wine, stuffed our faces with bar food, and slammed an oatmeal raisin shot. And then, because we're generally awesome late-20's-aged women, we went to see Mamma Mia. Don't be jealous. 

My face and Face.
Also, because we're late-20's aged women, we carry flats in our purse and leave our heels on the floor.

The show was ummmmmm, terrible? Perhaps because I was secretly comparing it to Rock of Ages, which is the MOST glorious Broadway show I've ever seen. Don't be fooled though, it didn't keep me from totally singing along out loud.

Friday - I got up with the best of intentions of going to the American Museum of Natural History (think "Night of the Museum" fame). It's my favorite - especially the whale and Teddy Roosevelt. 

However, once I got out onto the city, I realized that I was a tad bit hungover, our hotel was nowhere close to the B or C line, and the museum was 50 blocks north. Um, nevermind. I went and hung out in the NYC Library instead. 

The NYC Library IS the Harry Potter Great Hall. How have I never noticed this before?
 Then I met Face for lunch at Bryant Park Grill. Lovely.

Friday night, Goose and I went for drinks to Face and husband's apartment. We also had reservations at a nearby steakhouse, but the combination of Winston's amazing face, the fantastic drinks we were offered, and the very tasty cheese plate we snacked on meant we never made it to dinner. Face and husband, thanks for having us as always, and don't think we've forgotten about Croatia. 

Mildly annoyed because Aunt Randi won't share the cheese plate with him.
Saturday - We hiked it to Grand Central and took the train to Darien, Connecticut, where one of Goose's great friends, J, is from. He graciously invited us to his parent's home for the night. 

We met all of his Darien childhood friends, had several rum and punches at his childhood yacht club, and dined on a lobster broil setup on the beach.

Not a bad view, I'd say.

J and his fiance, C, are joining us in Houston soon. Actually, Goose and J have requested race car bunk beds setup, so you can imagine where this is going....

All in all, a pretty decent break from work life I'd say.

As a general blog programming note, someone asked me the other day what my blog was about. And, although it may be true, I was strangely uncomfortable with my response: "Um, I guess, me?" Weird, huh? So, I'm making a conscious effort going forward to add non-narcissistic things here. A book review, perhaps? A few good restaurants I've been to? Ugh, I'm bored already. We'll see how it goes. Hopefully I won't have to trade in the gold for silver.

So, the radio silence is over. Proceed accordingly.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Honeymoon Part II: Capetown by Way of Um, Everywhere.

And here we are, Part II. Unfortunately, I don't anticipate any Morgan Freeman references herein, but who knows, ask me at the end.

And before you begin, in case you missed Part I, you should start here

We left New Orleans the morning of June 3rd, relatively refreshed, certainly showered and heavily packed. A honeymoon condition of mine, regardless of where we went, was that I be allowed to pack ALL the clothes I wanted without grief or groveling from Goose. Like, ALL the clothes I wanted. And he obliged, grief- and grovel-free....initially, at least. So we were ceremoniously dumped at the New Orleans airport with four extra-large suitcases, two medium carry-ons, one massive purse, a backpack (Did I marry a college student? What in the world?), a hat bag and a "I'm sneaking on an extra personal item, just TRY me, airline lady" mini-purse. Please store away in your mind for a future post that *most* of our suitcases were hard-sided. You'll need that for later. Basically, in sum, we looked like a yuppie freakshow as we started out. What wonderful forbearance.

We caught a flight from New Orleans to Houston. In the opposite direction of the African continent. And where we live. Well, that's strange.

Then we proceeded to New York from Houston. If you'll remember, I almost missed a honeymoon flight because I was determined to stuff my face with french fries. New York french fries, to be exact. Not exactly the best way to start out your overseas flight - overheated from your mad dash to the gate and overstuffed with grease and salt. But, at least we were off, again.

London. June 4th. Luckily, one of the 823953029 details I managed to coordinate between May 31st and June 4th was the reservation of a pod for us in the London airport. Complete with neon lights, R2D2 look-alikes and a shower. Amen. During our day-long layover, we managed to get in a short nap, a quick rinse, and a new face of makeup.
Our pod in Heathrow. And R2D2, because obviously.

Finally, on June 5th, we arrived in Capetown in the same clothes we left New Orleans in on June 3rd. Yummmmmmy.

And that's where the real, "We're married forever!" story begins...

Actually, this is where the story begins...Goose driving a stick-shift. On the opposite side of the car. On the opposite side of the road. Mother of all things holy, please help us. 

Our Hotel - We stayed at the Queen Victoria Hotel at the Waterfront. It was amazing and had a stellar restaurant, which worked out quiet well for us. Apparently, the travel agent forgot to tell us that winter in Capetown meant clouds, rain, snow and torrential storms. Of the 15 meals we had in Capetown, about half were at our hotel. Bummer, but tasty. 

"Hey girl. How you likin' the rain?"

The Elusive Tabletop Mountain - I'm not much of a climber. Yet somehow, everywhere we go, I get suckered into climbing something. Mexican pyramids. Notre Dame. The stairs at my office. Regardless of where it's at, I tend to not be very good. So, imagine my *disappointment* when Tabletop Mountain was closed every single day. Our days went like this: (1) Wake up. (2) Call front desk. (3) Front desk calls Tabletop Mountain for weather reports. (4) Front desk calls us to report weather reports. (5) Goose cries. (6) I secretly sigh with relief to live to see another day.

In all seriousness, Goose was very disappointed we never got to climb the mountain, even though we stayed at the base of it. I was....slightly disappointed. We did, however, get some good pictures. Please note the top - it's the best luck I've had in awhile that I wasn't in the middle of that mess.

Robben Island - There are two stories here. Let's flash through the first to get to the second. First, I almost died by way of drowning. We fought LITERALLY (like, literally) 30 foot swells on a tugboat-ish thing to make the 45 minute trek to the island. Suffice it to say that they then proceeded to cancel all remaining tours to the island due to high seas and rough rains. Oh wait...what's that, you say? We have to get back to Capetown in same said high seas and rough rains? No thanks. I'll stay here. Send the helicopter, I'm not getting back on that boat.

Sending an S.O.S. postcard in case we don't make it back alive. Nelson looks concerned for me.

Unfortunately, that argument did not work with Goose. I did, in fact, get back on the boat. (For the record, karma is a mean-spirited witch whom I love. After forcing me back on the boat, Goose narrowly missed getting vomed on by our neighbor, who was in worse shape than me. Raha, I win.)

Second story, one which I will fail to give due justice. Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for most of his 27 years in prison, was very emotional. To witness a country so newly fresh in its independence, still bravely displaying its scars of apartheid, was heart-wrenchingly inspirational.

Robben Island Prison and The Apartheid Dummy.

Our guide was a formal political prisoner himself. He spent seven years at the prison, many of which overlapped with Nelson Mandela. Although his stories were heartbreaking, he told them with a sparkle in his eye. What an amazing man. (I wanted to ask him if I could bunk with him overnight to escape the stormy trek back to the mainland. I thought it was a fair question. Goose did not.)
Our guide, and his sleeping cot. They slept on those winter, summer, rain or shine.

As I said, Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first black president, was imprisoned here as a very young man. He spent 27 years in jail, most of them at Robben Island. He planned the overthrow of Apartheid from these walls, in this room, looking out that window.
Nelson Mandela's cell.

And, perhaps most emotional of all, here, in the lime quarry where the prisoners worked day-in and day-out, year after year, chipping rocks by hand, lies a symbol of forgiveness and hope. This hill is formed by a stone laid by each of the surviving political prisoners who gave their youth to Robben Island. The base rock was laid by Mr. Mandela himself. If that doesn't give you chills, then you need to turn down your A.C. and try again.

Falling into Life - I'll leave you with these, the remainder of our time in Capetown. None require any particular explanation, other than that Goose and I were falling into life. Learning to live as a married couple, happy, carefree, and half a world away from the real world. And we liked it.
South African Geese!

Our first South African waiter's name was Simba. I lie not.

Lettuce, I die.

Next up, Stellenbosch. Less rainy, a little more golden and a lot more sloshed.