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.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Her Four-Legged Legacy

This one will be a quick one and generally devoid of my normal dryness. And, it's more of an advertisement than a life-telling debacle.

When Mom left us, she left more than just my brother and me. She was also the very proud Momma to three dogs - truly, her daily dose of joy. She was an empty-nester with a huge heart...Sophie, Riley and Missy helped her fill it. One of the hardest parts of watching Mom's very quick sickness and passing was experiencing the true heartbreak of her puppies. She was their life, and I know they miss her as much as we do.

We scrambled after her passing to find homes for the three, as Goose and I are already at our maximum (legal, contractual and sanity-wise) on animals. Sophie, Mom's outside puppy, quickly managed to persuade my AMAZING secretary that she needed her, so she has found a perfect forever home.

Missy and Riley, on the other hand, are still waiting. Very eagerly. This will be my very last gift to Mom - to make sure that they find a home where they will be loved as much as they were with her. 

They are both being fostered with a wonderful lady named Katy with SMART Rescue in Spring, Texas. They have been together Missy's entire life, and so we are hoping they will find a forever home together.

Sweet Missy:
 Handsome Riley:

Please pass along this posting to anyone who may be interested. It means the world.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Great House Hunt has ended...

Well, sort of, with about 1,000 qualifiers. But I figured I'd provide dramatic updates in the meantime.

If there's something to be said about a marriage of two Type-As, it's that we can make decisions relatively quickly and mostly decisively. We spent Saturday running around Houston with our amazing (and patient) realtor, basically ruling things out. Seeing tons of stuff we did not like quickly helped us determine what we did.

So, drumroll please...

(Please tell me you took the 1 minute, 29 seconds to click on that link. If you did not, then you have zero clue what this next picture is about and you should feel very sad and left out.)

"Joy to the world!"
I think we've landed on the Heights. If you're relatively interested in what that means, start here:

And I think we've landed on this builder: (Big thanks to AY for the recommendation. We're not stalking you, promise.)

Yes, I said builder. As in, we're going to build. A house. To keep. Amazing, yes?

Here's the house floor plan we think we've settled on.

Plus a retreat in the back to put up our crazy guests when they come to stay. Or Goose when he's misbehaving.

I googled "Goose in jail" and something amazing actually appeared. Google is the best invention ever.
We're meeting with the builder again tonight to see if we can finalize a lot that we like. And if it doesn't work out, then just be happy I've made your day with glittery Christmas Vacation videos and pictures of misbehaving geese. As always, you are welcome.

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Great House Hunt has begun....

And so it has begun. The Great Combined-Eight Last-Names 2012 House Hunt.

Here's what I hear in my head, just typing that: ""

Please tell me you got the reference. We may be fighting if you're still lost.
Goose and I have faced the reality of our living situation. Let's just say, my third master closet-meltdown hasn't been my only one. Oh, and each of our 700 wedding guests were very gracious, which equates to us having to go on a scavenger hunt to find our guest bed. Add onto that the grand piano, third Christmas tree and 2,323,623 photo albums that I just inherited, and perhaps our reality has become clear to you as well.

One-HALF of the guest bedroom. Oh, the shame.
So, we're off....pretending that we know what we're doing, when really, in fact, we're clueless.  A few tools we've employed:
  • - for Houstonites, this is a goldmine. Basically, all realtors in Houston list their properties here on a daily basis. It serves as a nice mind-break during my day.
  • Our new realtor. He came highly recommended from several of our friends who have bought homes with him recently, and after our first meeting with him, we can see why.
At said meeting, he asked if we had given any thought to what we were looking for. Ohhhhhhhh man, have you opened the proverbial can of worms now, buddy. Have I given any thought to what I'm looking for? Where should I start? With the 353,232363,23623 photos I've stored in my head over the years, or the very intense, very sophisticated spreadsheet Goose has created, revised and memorized?

In a large nutshell, here are the things at the top of our list:

1. Large Closets - Duh. This automatically eliminates 98.5% of the available homes on the market. Perhaps it is my OCD talking, but the thought of squished clothes I cannot be sweating all day, every day, for the foreseeable future. Clearly, you can see why this must remain at the top of our list. And, for the record, Goose is oddly obsessive about his closet space too. We're a perfect freakazoid match.

For the record, this is NOT my closet. Barf. dude clothes. Interesting. Perhaps that is the source of all evils.

2. (At Least) A Small Yard - P&P are city dogs. They've lived in apartments since they were born. They survive. But, it is a tad bit embarrassing when my dogs prefer to poop on the concrete instead of the grass....which is 6 inches front of other people.  We're going to see if we can break that habit and mollify my embarrassment by encouraging them to *enjoy* at least a small yard. Goose seems to think he'll enjoy gardening. I, on the other hand, know the truth: we'll have a yard man by week two.

Ok, fine, go ahead and poop on the concrete. You're too cute to care.

3. Minimal Facelift Required - I LOVE crafts. Small crafts. I do not, however, enjoy large crafts. Like, "Here, let's tear down this wall this weekend!" crafts. So, we're in search of either a fairly new house, or a completely revamped old house. As long as it doesn't require me nailing something, scraping something, or ripping up something, I think it should work. I love reading about other people's love-hate relationships with their remodels. I'm just not so sure that one for us wouldn't involve a nervous breakdown/divorce/fleeing of country.

4. High Ceilings WITH Ceiling Fans - I have a fluorescent tan. My fluorescent tan doesn't stand out to me, probably because I'm surrounded by others with similar tans, until I leave my office and merge with the real world. The world where people don't have fluorescent-lighting-from-living-in-their-office tans. So, when I am at home during daylight hours, I want a house with high ceilings and lots of natural light so I can attempt to Vitamin-D away my work-induced jaundice. (For the record, Goose does not have a fluorescent tan. He has a "I play golf a lot" tan. Harumph.) And the ceiling fans? That's just because I'm a hot-natured fool. I go to bed with straight hair and wake up with curly hair. Magic! Gross.

Yes, this is my actual office. And yes, that is a food processor on the floor and a box of Canadian cookies on my desk. Don't judge.
5. Symmetrical Design - I find peace in symmetrical lines, balanced objects and sorted pairs. If I drive up to look at a house, and it is something similar to this:

If you live here, I'm sorry. I'm sure you're really nice and smart and pretty.
....then I'm driving away. The end.

So, that's our short list. Don't you worry, there's a long one too. And an extra-long one.

I'll let you know how it goes after Round 1 on Saturday. Wish us luck. Hopefully we find a house covered in glitter.