Resolving current issues…Letting go…

Big Daddy contemplating his next move.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

And, here are our girls!

I can’t wait to get back to Marloth Park.  Our animal friends were filling our days and night in awe and wonder while our human friends enriched our lives in more ways than we can count.

Still in the hospital, dealing with the insurance company who’ve yet to pay the hospital bill of ZAR 80000, US $5518, for the angiogram (we paid out of pocket), the hospital bill for ZAR 700000, US $48,185, and now yesterday’s prepayment for this current hospital stay at ZAR 130000, US $8967, for which we also paid out-of-pocket.

Undoubtedly, all of this has added to the stress and concern over my recent triple coronary bypass surgery.  Add the fact that our two debit/ATM cards have been issued and then re-issued when on two occasions they’ve been lost in the mail and by Fex Ex International according to our bank in the US.

Currently, we’re living in a foreign country with no working debit/ATM card and have no way to access our bank accounts for cash.  We reordered the cards yesterday to be sent to our mailing service in Nevada and we’ll have them ship them to us via overnight delivery by DHL. 
Frank and The Mrs. sharing pellets with the guineafowl who’ve recently returned to our garden after being away for a few months.

In reality, there’s no such thing as overnight delivery here in South Africa.  We expect it will take a week to receive them.  I could go on and on about other recent issues mostly fueled by incompetence and/or neglect by various entities but the reality remains clear in my mind, it’s time to let all of this go and return to the issue of our happy and fulfilling lives on the move.

We always knew, at some point, health issues would halt our travels either permanently or for a period of time.  The period of time befell upon us on February 2nd when Dr. Theo did an exercise stress test on me to discover I have serious heart disease, a mere two months ago.

Its been a whirlwind since that date; a whirlwind of surgeries, complications, tons of medications and an amount of worry and concern experienced by both of us.

Even when we tried to check into this hospital on Friday, we sat at the check-in counter with a rep calling our credit card company wondering why the above referenced ZAR 130000, US $8967 charges to prepay this portion of the bill when we knew the card was good. 

Mom and Baby mongoose huddled together on the lookout for food.

After a stressful hour sitting at that desk, wondering what we were going to do, only to discover that the handheld credit card machine wasn’t working.  With a different machine, it went through in seconds. After all, TIA (this is Africa).  We should have known. 

Within hours I was in “theatre” having surgery on my legs.  I may go in for a second surgery, depending on the results of the culture done after the last surgery.  We’ll see how it goes.

In any case, it’s time to let all of this go, to focus on recovery, to focus on the opportunity we’ve been given to continue to live our dream.  In a mere 41 days, we’ll leave for Ireland to live in a lovely home on the sea in beautiful historic Connemara. 

What a wonderful way to roll into the next phase in our travels, a little wiser, a little more cautious and a lot more grateful than we ever imagined possible.  In the past, our gratefulness revolved around the opportunity to travel the world and make it work financially; to a have one another to share it with; to having the ability and resourcefulness to cohesively make it meaningful and important as it enriched our lives.

Kudu, bushbuck, and wildebeests relaxing in the garden.

But, now the gratefulness has gone beyond the above in an entirely new way…the gratefulness for another day of life having dodged not a bullet, but a cannonball that gives me… gives us another chance.

What we do with this chance is entirely up to us; we can treasure is as the gift it is or we can fall back into our pleasant routine of planning, booking and traveling.  We chose the “gift” for all that it represents, for all that it inspires within us and for all that we’ll share along the way.

Thank you for being on this journey with us.  In many ways, it’s just begun.


Photo from one year ago today, March 31, 2018:

She’d nibble on the pellets but we never saw him take a single bite.  He was more interested in her than he was in snacking. For more details, please click here.

Oh, oh, I’m back in the hospital…We love the new gnu…

They were content to stay seated for several hours, occasionally standing when we tossed pellets to other animals.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush

Young males gnu (wildebeest) have blondish hair on their head so mature males will leave them alone and not fight.  Due to the blond hair, the older males perceive the young males as females and have little interest in harassing them.

Well, folks here’s the latest…I am back in the hospital.  The leg infection took a turn for the worst in a period of 48 hours leaving us baffled and worried.

We already had an appointment scheduled with the surgeon for yesterday at 10:15 am.  I was expecting him to say my legs looked better but perhaps prescribing another round of a different antibiotic would be beneficial.

After eating pellets they all needed a nap.

When we took off the bandages, I could tell by the look on his face, he didn’t like what he saw and quickly informed us that we needed to see the plastic surgeon.  Most of us non-medical people assume calling a plastic surgeon would be for cosmetic reasons.

Not the case.  Many plastic surgeons have extensive skills and training in “wound” treatments and subsequent healing.  Within 30 minutes from leaving Dr. Naude’s office, we were face-to-face with Dr. Noelene Du Plessis in her office at Mediclinic Nelspruit.

In minutes we knew we were in the right place. It took no more than a few a quick look at my legs for her to inform us that I needed to check into the hospital for which could be multiple surgeries and a stay of up to 10 days.  
They don’t seem to mind being up close and personal with one another.

She insisted the first surgery would be as soon as I was checked in.  Enough time had passed since I’d last eaten and had something to drink (I had a small cup of unsweetened Greek yogurt before we left the house at 8:00 am and had finished a bottle of water around noon).  

Noelene (doctors go by their first names here) explained that the surgery had to be done “today” most likely transpire around 6:00 pm.  We were nervous and worried.  Tom in his usual manner tried to stay upbeat for me while I, on the other hand, was numb in disbelief. 

How could this be?  I’d done everything right to aid in my recovery but apparently, it wasn’t enough. I couldn’t think of one reason to blame myself for being in this position.
Two out of three wildebeests posed for the shot.

The only thing I could think of was the fact I’d taken a few showers upon returning to the house after the surgery, only to discover a few days later than the water supply in Marloth Park was toxic with bacteria including e Coli.

Could it be the water on my open wounds was toxic enough to precipitate the infections? The doctors seem to think it was entirely possible.  Once I became aware of this I immediately stopped taking showers and did “sponge baths” with bottled water which although messy worked out fine.

Eventually, the water quality improved but I still avoided the shower with the wounds not healing properly.  Thus, in the past few weeks, the infection raged on while I took strong doses of antibiotics the doctors prescribed.  I sent photos of my legs for days and still they agreed I could be treated at home until a few days ago, it took a turn for the worse.

Lounging in the garden after a hearty midday snack.

Last night at 1730 hours (5:30 pm) I was wheeled into “theatre” for what may have been the first of two or three surgeries over the next 10 days or so.  As I write here now in my private room Tom has gone to check back into  Leaves Lodge and Spa where he stayed weeks ago.

He’d considered driving back and forth but after driving back in the dark last night, he reconsidered and is staying only minutes away from me during whatever time is necessary for me to get through this difficult phase.

Tomorrow, we’ll be back with some of the obstacles we encountered checking me into the hospital including some nagging insurance issues.  Please check back for more.

Be well.  Be happy.  Thanks for being “here” with us during this challenging time.


Photo from one year ago today, March 30, 2018:

On the way to the petrol station. For more details, please click here.

Mongoose mania…Funny little characters…

Three mongooses checking out the veranda and what treats we may be offering.  As carnivores, they particularly enjoyed some leftover rare steak we cut into tiny pieces.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

“Don’t get too close to my baby.”

This is the first holiday in the past 13 months when we’ve continued to see lots of wildlife when the park is filled with tourist, often offering them food they like but shouldn’t eat.

When they are fed leftover human food, sweets, chips, and marshmallows, they tend to hang around those properties and stay far away from us.  Alas, it’s been different this time. They keep coming and coming.
The bush is lush with greenery and vegetation although, due to the late rainy season, without some of the important grasses the wildlife need for nourishment.  As a result, they may still be looking for pellets at the houses of those who freely offer them on a regular basis.
“Umm…smells good here.”

Of course, its a concern to us when we leave Marloth Park in a little over six weeks.  They’ll come here over and over again looking for us and the nutritious treats we regularly offer; pellets, apples, carrots and other appropriate fruits and vegetables they can easily digest.

It breaks my heart to think of how often, after we’ve left,  Little will climb the steps to the veranda wondering where I am and why I don’t come outside to greet him.  

We don’t sit on the veranda as much as we used to since I need to keep my still painful legs up.  But from my vantage point from the sofa, I can see what’s going on in the garden and I get up dozens of times a day to see who’s here.  The getting up and down is good to avoid sitting too long in one position.

More and more mongooses climbed the steps to the veranda.

We’ll still dine on the veranda each evening with the yellow container of pellets ready to be tossed to whoever stops by while we eat.  We no longer do 1700 hours, 5:00 pm, “happy hour” since I’m not drinking wine anymore.  And Tom doesn’t drink by himself.  

Watching the wildlife while we dine has continued to be a highlight of our day.  There are often four or five species in the garden simultaneously, all clamoring from the pellets or whatever treats we may have to offer.

Yesterday was no exception.  All day, we experienced a steady flow of our wildlife friends from Frank and The Mrs. to bushbucks, duikers, kudus,  zebras, warthogs, and an array of birds.  

A mom protecting her offspring.

But, the highlight of our day was the band of mongoose many of who were so excited for a treat that they, like Little, came up onto the veranda as shown in today’s photos.  

We couldn’t stop laughing as we watched their brazen behavior, literally at our feet, along with their playful antics as they mosied around the veranda with intense curiosity.

For the first time in almost two months, I was excited to be taking photos of these adorable little creatures and for a while found myself back to my old self, wrapped up in nature and taking photos.  What a good feeling!

Another mom looking out for her baby.  They stay very close to one another.

Right now, we have three wildebeest in the garden, two lounging for a possible nap.  It appears to be one older male and two younger males. The older male may be the dad of one or both of them. 

Usually, Wildebeest Willie is the only wildebeest that visits our garden other than the occasional, Dad & Son.  Today’s visit of the three boys is a rare treat indeed,

Today, we’ll continue to lay low.  Tomorrow morning, we’ll be leaving the house to drive to Nelspruit where I’ll have the second after surgery appointment with the surgeon.  

“We’re here.  What’s next?”

After the appointment, we’ll make a stop in Melalane, the half-way point, for a few items from the Click’s Pharmacy (that reminds me of Walgreen’s in the US) and grocery shopping at the Spar Market, which is bigger than our usual Spar in Komatipoort.

Once, we return to the house, we’ll prepare the day’s post with updates on how I’m progressing after the surgery.

Have a spectacular day!


Photo from one year ago today, March 28, 2018:

A lizard-like gecko found on the veranda.  For more details, please click here.

It’s a new day…It’s a new dawn…A practical warning…

Big Daddy, so majestic.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

This particular oxpecker is different from those we’ve seen with orange beaks.

It’s not over.  I still have a long way to go to be fully recovered.  However, yesterday everything changed when I hit the six-week mark (since the triple bypass surgery) and was able to stop wearing the compression stockings.

No words can describe the relief I felt when as of yesterday, I didn’t have to wear those tight impossible-to-put-on compression stockings constantly pressing on the still open incisions in my legs, especially near my ankles where the infection has been the worst.

Now, I’m only wearing the bandages, applied after cleansing and applying antibiotic ointment twice a day to keep dust and dirt away from the incisions.  I only remove the bandages for a few minutes each day and stay far from the dust kicked up in the garden by the wildlife until I complete the treatment and cover the wounds.
Zebras stop by almost daily.

The infections are gone.  My right thigh is completely healed and I expect my two legs from knee to ankle will entirely close within a week or so.  While the incisions are still open, it’s still painful but not nearly as bad as it was a few weeks ago.  

I take only two non-narcotic pain tablets a day, one in the morning upon awakening and then again at 10:30 pm before I go to sleep.  No pain medication is needed during the day.  

My chest will take months to entirely heal.  Ribs had been cut on the left chest during the surgery as well as the sternum in order to freely access the heart.  I feel no rib pain at this point but the sternum, a large bone, is still on the mend.  

When riding in the car, the seatbelt across my chest is painful.  We bring a pillow along to strap in front of me.  This helps on bumpy roads as well.  I can’t imagine during our remaining 45 days in Marloth Park, that our former almost daily drives to the Crocodile River will be possible.  The dirt roads are filled with potholes and way to bumpy for me.

Baby piglet estranged from his family visits daily now that he’s on his own.

However, when visiting friends, Tom takes the best route to avoid as much bouncing around as possible.  Again, with the pillow pressed to my chest its doable.

As for energy…I have more than my body will allow.  Thus, I do as much as I can, pushing a little harder each day.  The walking is now back up to 30 minutes a day and will reach 40 minutes by the week’s end.  Within a week or two I’ll be able to walk 60 minutes each day on flat surfaces.  

For now, I’m walking in the house.  Here again, the bumpy dirt roads aren’t a safe option for anyone to walk let alone me, during this period.  When we’re in Ireland in 45 days I’ll be able to walk on the beach or the local roads.  Surely, in time I’ll be able to navigate some of the hilly roads they are in our new neighborhood.

This morning, when I fell back to sleep at 4:00 am, I had a dream I was having trouble breathing and thought (in the dream) I was having an asthma attack.  Asthma is another of those hereditary conditions I developed as a child but have had under control as an adult.  

Check out the muscles on this huge animal.

Before the surgery, I had been using a preventive daily steroid medication, Advair, since I’d noticed I was having trouble breathing.  This helped a little but not entirely.  I assumed the dust kicked up by the animals was the culprit.

Since the operation, I haven’t had to use the inhaler once.  I wasn’t able to breathe because my heart wasn’t pumping enough blood into my lungs.  It was logical for me to assume it was asthma.  

As time goes on, I’ve begun to remember more and more situations where I thought my symptoms were something else, when in fact, it was my heart, unable to fully do its job.  

While working out at a health club all those years I often struggled with a fast pulse and breathing issues.  Little did I know, nor did I ever think, that my arteries were clogged.  The doctors say the progression of the three 100% blocked arteries took place over many years, often as much as 30 years. I had no idea.

Heart disease isn’t always about sudden chest pain and one thinking they’re having a heart attack.  As my case illustrates it was insidious with few distinct symptoms.

I share all of these details hoping to inspire our readers to see their doctor to arrange a stress test

From this site:
“Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S. and also the leading cause of death worldwide.  Heart disease is a term used to describe several conditions, many of which are related to plaque buildup in the walls of the arteries.   As the plaque builds up, the arteries narrow, this makes it more difficult for blood to flow and creates a risk for heart attack or stroke.

Ms. Kudu wondering when more pellets will come her way.  We see several forkls of kudus each day.

Cancer is the second cause of death but some are proactive in having various tests to determine if they’re at risk: coloscopies, prostate screening, pap smear, mammograms, biopsies for suspicious lumps and skin checks.  

Most people, without obvious symptoms of heart disease, don’t bother to see if they’re at risk.  Heredity in both of these dreadful diseases is a huge risk factor but so are numerous lifestyle choices.

My case is a perfect example of how easy it is to assume there’s no reason to have a stress test done to determine if further tests are necessary.  How many people actually know what an angiogram is, the gold standard of determining how badly heart disease has progressed?

Obviously, this invasive and costly test is not necessary if one’s stress test results are good.  Mine indicated an issue but not the detail needed to determine the extent of the damage and future risk.

From this site:  “Atherosclerosis is a disease in which plaque builds up inside your arteries. Arteries are blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood to your heart and other parts of your body. Plaque is made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances found in the blood. Over time, plaque hardens and narrows your arteries.”

For many with partially clogged arteries, stents are a great life-saving option, done during an angiogram, subsequently called an angioplasty.  

From this site “Stents help keep coronary arteries open and reduce the chance of a heart attack. A stent is inserted into the clogged artery with a balloon catheter. The balloon is inflated and the stent expands and locks in place. This holds the artery open and allows blood to flow more freely.”

The male kudu is a distinguished animal with considerable grace and ease as he moves through the bush.  He’s well aware of his massive racks and taps it on the ground near any other wildlife attempting to provoke him.

Please note, I am not intending to scare our readers.  But if one reader is inspired to get checked, all this “heart” talk in many posts will have been worth it.  

After reading many comments in a variety of online forums, for those who experienced coronary bypass surgery, many have said if they’d know how hard the recovery would be they would have taken their chances and not have the surgery.

We’re talking about saving one’s life. This operation is not done willy nilly as a preventive means.  It’s always about dealing with a life-threatening situation.  For me, it was a no-brainer, surgery or die.  I chose Life.

And as hard as these past six weeks have been, I’d do it all over again.  It’s not over yet, the boost I’m getting from one great day, starting yesterday, could ultimately prove to be a teaser with many more months of recovery on the horizon.

But each day, I’ll carry on with sheer will and determination, taking extra care, following doctor’s orders and striving to have many more years of adventure and world travel with my lover, partner, and friend, Tom.

Oh, oh, gotta go. Little is looking for me!

Have a great day!


Photo from one year ago today, March 27, 2018:

We didn’t recall seeing a warthog this tiny since this post in Kenya in 2013. when a mom placed her babies in a hole to protect them from lions that were in place for the kill.  For more details, please click here.

Paperwork overload…How does everyone do it?…

This is my boy, Little.  How does a human being fall in love with a pig?

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

A young male kudu and Little are watching the mongoose eat some meat we tossed out.  Kudus and warthogs are herbivores, although warthogs will go after a bone now and then, mainly for the nutrients in the bone marrow.

This morning I received an email from Jury Duty in Clark County Court in Nevada.  I’d written an appropriate letter explaining my recent surgery and that I couldn’t leave South Africa in time to meet the April 15th call to jury duty.  

In most cases, being out of the country is sufficient cause for dismissal. Apparently, I needed better proof than my sworn statement. What’s the purpose of a sworn statement if they don’t believe you?

This morning I sent them two letters from the cardiologist, hoping this will suffice.  If it doesn’t, a warrant will be issued for my arrest.  Gee…would I have had to die in order to be excused?
Young kudus in the garden.
With a problem with the connection with our two-year-old portable scanner, it took me no less than 30 minutes to get the letters scanned and sent by email. What if I didn’t have a scanner and was housebound for medical reasons?  

Not everyone has someone who can help them with such tasks.  Of course, we’re fortunate to have access to technology that can expedite such a situation, even with its current technical difficulties.

Paperwork slays me.  There’s no escaping it, is there?  I often wonder how folks who don’t speak English, seniors with dementia or other medical issues can complete all the paperwork required in their daily lives. 
When the pellets were gone, they trotted off.  Kudus tend to leave when there’s nothing left to eat while others can hang around for a while, especially warthogs, who are patient and know someone else will be coming soon and more pellets will be tossed.
Next, as soon as the insurance company pays the hospital bill, supposedly, at the end of this month, I have to get to work to complete complicated forms and scan more documents in order to submit a claim for reimbursement from the insurance company for the angiogram part of the hospital bill.  

We paid the angiogram bill out of pocket on February 7th which was a separate claim from the bypass surgery, transpiring five days apart.  

We’re waiting to submit the claim after they pay the bigger bill of approximately ZAR 770000 (US $53,551) at the end of the month.  The angiogram bill which we paid in full was for ZAR 80000 (US $5562) for which we are responsible for a co-pay of ZAR 228743 (US$2000) for the co-pay.  
These baby kudus were born this season.
Thus, we’re hoping to get back the difference after the co-pay.  We’ll see how that works out.  Of course, now the insurance company has doubled our rate to continue insuring us.  Today, we’ll know if they are going to exclude any possible heart-related incidents in the future.

Then, at the end of January, we asked our bank to mail us, via Fed Ex International (not US Postal Service), our new debit cards which will expire on March 31st.  They were expected to be here no later than the middle of March.  

Alas, we called the bank to discover they weren’t sent, as promised by Fed Ex International (which we would have received in a maximum of 10 days since the shipment date) but instead were sent by US Postal Service which we specifically stated wouldn’t work here in South Africa.  
Check out the tiny babies in this band of mongoose.
After spending over an hour on the phone with the bank, finally, they canceled the cards that hadn’t arrived and issued two new cards to arrive as requested.  We should receive them by April 6th.  We’ll see how that goes.  As of March 31st, we won’t have a working debit card between us.  Mine expired at the end of February.   
Next, as soon as the insurance company pays the hospital bill we have to return the funds we borrowed from ourselves from our retirement plan to pay the hospital bill if they didn’t come through.  

We have to return that money to the fund in 60 days from the original withdrawal date to avoid paying taxes on the amount.  Oh, good grief.  It’s not as easy as sending them a check.  More paperwork is required.  Tom will handle this.
We’ve had zebras stop by almost every day.  They are definitely in the “eat and run” category.
Then, before too long, I’ll need to get our taxes ready for the accountant. We’ll have to file an extension this time.  I don’t feel up to doing the tax stuff right now.

The list goes on and on.  We always say, “You can run but you can’t hide.”  If we were living under a palm tree on a desert island weaving baskets, we’d still have paperwork to do!
May you have a paperwork-free day!                                                                                                


Photo from one year ago today, March 26, 2018:

Tom calls them Guinea Hens, making me laugh.  They cluck a bit like a combination of turkeys and chickens.  For more photos, please click here.

Trying to get back into the groove…

This forkl of kudus consisted of three boys and two girls.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Two Big Daddies sharing celery tops and pellets.

It would be nice if we could head out in air-conditioned comfort in search of wildlife along the Crocodile River.  At this point, I can’t imagine bouncing around in the little red car on the outrageously bumpy roads for any length of time.  

The few trips we’ve embarked upon only required a few minutes on the bad dirt roads as I held a pillow close to my chest. Any more than that would be difficult to take. “They” (whoever they are) say the breastbone fuses and heals in six to eight weeks.  

Tomorrow will be six weeks since the dreadful surgery and although I don’t have chronic pain in my chest, each time I reach for something I feel a sudden burst of pain.  It’s definitely not totally healed and for now, it feels as if it could be months in order to be free from discomfort.
Such a handsome kudu bull.

If my legs were totally healed I could declare I am feeling pretty good overall although most task I perform wear me out.  Also, I can’t seem to stand on my feet for very long, hoping this will improve over time.

This morning Tom and I got to work preparing dinner to last for the next three nights, one of our favorite dishes, Low Carb Chicken Pot Pie with an Almond Flour Crust.  We both were feeling like some “comfort food” even with the heat and humidity we’re continuing to experience.  

Fall began four days ago and with it, we’re hoping it will soon cool down.  Lately, the humidity has been impossible, especially with all the rain.  The many power outages add to the discomfort level when we can’t use a fan in the lounge or aircon in the bedroom.

It’s not unusual to see a few Big Daddies behaving as close “friends.”  We see this in many species.

This morning Linda sent me a letter Eskom posted today stating there won’t be any outages this week.  That will be nice if they follow through which seldom occurs.  Next week will be another matter.

This week we’ll continue to focus on my recovery with no major plans on the horizon.  On Friday, we return to Nelspruit for the second post-op appointment with the cardiac thoracic surgeon.  On April 8th we return to meet with the cardiologist.

Tomorrow will be the last day I have to wear the compression stockings, a full six weeks after the surgery.  I feel confident my legs will heal better without the tightness of the stockings on the incisions, especially where the infections are close to my ankles.  The stockings irritate the wounds each step I take.

Without the stockings, I’m hoping to be able to increase the walking in order to return to the previous  40 minutes daily I’d worked up to prior to the infections setting in.   By this time next week, I plan to be able to begin escalating the walking time from 40 to 60 minutes a day.  Also, it will be easier to walk as the weather hopefully cools down a bit.

Once we get to Ireland in 47 days, I’ll join a local fitness center which is the best environment for me to maintain a regular fitness program.  I’ve never enjoyed exercising from “home” (wherever that may be at this time in our lives).  There are no fitness centers within a 75-minute drive from Marloth Park.

Have a lovely Monday!


Photo from one year ago today, March 25, 2018:

At such a distance, it was difficult to get a clearer photo but we were none the less thrilled to get photos of this hippo.  For more details, please click here.

What???…Let nature take it course???…

Although a male, Fourth Babby’s warts haven’t fully developed.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Four species in one photo; bushbuck, kudu, duiker and Fourth Baby.

There are two statements at the top of my list that are frequently used that I consider cringe-worthy.  They are:

  • Sorry for your loss (when a loved one passes away)
  • Let nature take its course (when an animal is injured or ill)
The “sorry for your loss” makes me want to scream.  It’s become a “canned” comment for those who don’t want to take a moment to express their empathy for the living with a more inventive phrase.  How about, “I so sorry to hear you lost dear Bill.  He was a wonderful man, we’ll all miss.”  Or, my heartfelt sympathies over you losing Mary.  This is truly a sorrowful time for you and all of her loved ones.” 

As for “let nature takes its course,” oh, good grief this is a tired and overused comment when one can’t be vulnerable enough to express how a suffering animal makes us sad or feeling helpless.  Isn’t it acceptable to say, “I wish we could do something to help or…is there something we can do to help?”  And then, do it if possible.
He often sits in this goofy pose when eating pellets.  This was how we knew it was him.  The others kneel but don’t set their butt down while eating.
Or perhaps, when circumstances are such where we cannot help the poor animal, “I am sad to see this creature suffering” or, “It breaks my heart to see any living being suffering.”  No one in your presence will think less of you for these types of statements.

Almost every time we’ve been on a safari with others, we encounter one of the passengers in the vehicle saying, “Let nature take its course.”  When seeing photos of injured animals on Facebook or other social media, some of which we’ve posted, invariably a viewer writes, “Let nature take its course.”

Sure this statement is true.  Nature will take its course in due time or, the animal will recover.  Many wildlife species seem to be sturdy and are able to recover from serious injury.  We’ve seen warthogs bodies and faces so badly mauled, most likely from altercations with other warthogs, that we thought the wound would become infected and they’d eventually die.
Two weeks ago we spotted “Fourth Baby” alone in the garden.
But, alas a few months pass and they’ve begun to heal using mud and often maggots as a means of treatment.  How adaptable they are!  Us humans, left in the wild would hardly be resourceful enough to save ourselves if we didn’t have survival training.

Would we say about a human who is injured or ill, “Let nature takes its  course?”  How would those around us think of us?  How would we think of our heartless selves if we freely and truly felt this way?”  Not much.

Recently, I’ve heard and read Marloth Park residents and visitors saying, in regard to kudus with obvious signs of tuberculosis, “Let nature take its course.”

That is ridiculous!  TB is highly contagious and if not dealt with by means of medical treatment or euthanasia, eventually all the kudus and other species could die off in Marloth Park or even in massive Kruger National Park.  

None of the other mind sharing pellets with him.

Nature taking its course has resulted in entire species becoming extinct, let alone the entire eradication of species due to human intervention and blatant disregard for saving wildlife for future generations to appreciate and revere.

Recently, a little warthog, about six months old, was separated from its core group.  We referred to them as, “Mom and Babies” especially when verbally acknowledging them from our veranda using my irritating-to-some, animal-speak voice. 

A few weeks we noticed the Mom and Babies now consisted of only three babies, not the usual four.  They’d been coming here daily since the piglets were no more than a week old.  Easily, we’ve come to recognize the mom and the four little pigs.  Now there were only three.

Sadly, we speculated that the fourth piglet may have been run over by a car, fell under the prey of a dangerous cat that had entered Marloth Park or succumbed to an injury after being chased and injured in a fight with an adult warthog, usually an aggressive adult male such a “Basket” who is known to chase piglets when there’s food around.

At six months, warthogs are weaned and fending for themselves for sustenance, although they may stay with the mom and the other piglets until she’s ready to deliver her next litter. The siblings may remain together for extended periods until they are fully mature and begin their search for a mate to have a family of their own.

We’ve often seen mom warthogs with another adult female who perhaps is yet to find a mate of her own.  Often males hang together for extended periods, such as Mike and Joe and, Sigfreid and Roy, who’ve been together as pairs since we arrived over 13 months ago.  They may stay together for life which can be upwards of 15 years.

We’re hoping that at some point he’ll reunite with his family.

As for the missing fourth baby, a few weeks ago, he, by himself showed up in the yard.  We knew him right away.  After all, we’d been observing the five of them for over six months.  He knew how to ask for pellets and oddly, he was the only one of the four piglets that always ate lying down with his front legs tucked under in the usual warthog kneeling position when eating.

Did he get lost from his little family or did the mom send him on his way?  We’ll never know for sure.  However, he now stops by every day and so does the mom and three babies but always, so far, at different times.  We’re hoping to see them reunite at some point, especially if he’d been lost from the group.

So, now, this little guy fends for himself and hopefully acquired enough skill from the time he spent with his mother learning how to forage for food, dig for roots and plead with residents for a few pellets here and there.  In this case, we can say, “Let nature take its course” when we feel confident this little guy will figure it out on his own.

The question remains in the minds of many that humans are superior to animals.  But, after spending the majority of the past 13 plus months observing wildlife in our garden and in Kruger National Park, we’ve far surpassed this mentality.  

We all have a purpose and make a contribution to the world around us and we pray that understanding and compassion for all living beings supersedes all other perceptions of where we stand in the pecking order. 

We’re all important.


Photo from one year ago today, March 24, 2018:

Waterbucks at the Crocodile River.   For more photos, please click here

Behind the eight ball…

Four species in this photo from far left to right: duiker, kudu, warthog and bushbuck, all sharing pellets harmoniously.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Although the bushbucks would like to eat pellets, they stay out of the way of this warthog, who happens to be Little who is often quite willing to share with them.

By far, this is the least motivated I’ve felt to get things done since we began our world journey.  On six heart medications plus two (non-narcotic) pain medications, many of which slow me down, I am struggling to feel motivated to do the simplest of tasks.

Also, I can’t comfortably sit at the table on the veranda for any length of time since my legs are still very painful and the chairs are too low for the table, resulting in the necessity of raising my arms to reach my computer’s keyboard.

With the sternum yet to fully recover raising my arms and holding them in place is challenging even when using a fork to eat at that table.  But, each day all of these simple types of movements become a little easier and I’m looking forward to the future.

Two more bushbucks in the garden.

Looming in my mind right now is entering the countless receipts to be logged onto our spreadsheet, preparing tax information for our accountant in Nevada (most likely we’ll file an extension), filing the insurance claim for reimbursement for the angiogram (we’re waiting for the insurance company to pay the big claim the end of this month) and of course, our immigration status yet to be resolved.

Once we know the big hospital bill is paid by the end of the month, Tom will send the funds we “borrowed from our retirement plan” back to the financial company to ensure we don’t have to pay tax on that amount.  

Also, Tom will continue to research flights and hotels for upcoming travel over the next six months.  I’ve left these tasks entirely up to him to complete.

Ms. Bushbuck and duiker getting along well.

In the interim, we have two upcoming trips to Nelspruit, one to see the surgeon next Friday and another for an appointment with the cardiologist the following week.  

There is some type of wire sticking out of my midriff from one of the two drainage tubes placed in this area during surgery.  This must be stitches yet to be removed.  Hopefully, the surgeon will repair this next Friday.  

I know its time to get these looming tasks done.  I must admit that every chore or task I take on right now takes all the strength and motivation I can muster.  I made a low carb coconut cake for my evening snack a few days ago and I thought about it all day until I was finally motivated to put the eight ingredients together and pour them into the pan. 

Female and male bushbuck snacking together in the garden. with a duiker by the cement pond.

I suppose this is to be expected five weeks after surgery especially considering this painful infection in my legs which has set me back a few weeks in my recovery.  I can honestly say if I didn’t have the infection, I’d be feeling quite good.  Although, I imagine the lack of motivation is to be expected at this point.

It’s funny how I have no trouble doing the daily posts with relative ease and commitment.  Taking photos is another matter and I expect once I can walk more easily, I won’t hesitate to jump up for any photos ops.  Tom does what he can but, as we’ve noted in the past, his photo taking skills leave something to be desired although from time to time he produces some gems.

Tonight, we’re going to Jabula.  I’m hesitant to go but we both need to get out, and this is the perfect place to do so.  We’ll mingle with our friends who come and go throughout the evening and will enjoy another great meal, ribs, and rice for Tom and grilled chicken breasts with a big plate of cabbage and spinach for me.  

Young male bushbuck with budding horns.

I’m still not drinking wine and don’t plan to do so anytime in the near future.  Not only have I lost my taste for it but it makes no sense when I’m taking all these medications.  I’m considering totally giving up on alcoholic beverages since I’m not convinced that red wine offers any benefit to heart patients.  I didn’t drink alcohol for 20 years and it will be easy for me to forgo it in the future.

Next Tuesday I’ll be able to stop wearing the compression stockings.  Without the constant pressure on the incisions from the stockings, I’m expecting my legs to heal more quickly.  

I’ve procrastinated enough this morning and now its time for me to do the walking around the house.  If my legs didn’t hurt this would be easy and I’d be up to an hour by now.  But, it is what it is…and I’ll do the best I can.

Have a pleasant weekend!


Photo from one year ago today, March 23, 2018:

Read our story of this amazing chimp rescue by an amazing woman from her book, “My Bane is Missy.”  Gail and Missy in Liberia by the pool.  Please click here.

The big dilemma…

Mom and Three Babies…the fourth has been missing for almost two weeks but alas, he showed up by himself a few days ago.  We’d hoped he hang around long enough to reunite with his family but they left and he appeared about an hour later. 
“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”
This is Basket.  He lost his right ear in a confrontation a few months ago.

As I speak to family members and friends on Skype, text or email, the question always comes up, “I’ve read the blog but how are you really doing?”  Its a tough question to answer.

No doubt, I don’t want this online medium to be a whine-fest about my concerns, pain, and frustration after this dreadful but life-saving operation.  However, in our posts we always try to tell it like it is, resulting in an oxymoron; Mentally, emotionally? I’m OK.  Physically?  I’m not OK yet.

I am getting better, in bite-sized pieces.  Some patients say they have good days and bad days.  It’s really not like that for me.  I have days I progress and days it stands still.  But, they are days.  And, I’m alive.

The concerns are many.  How do I eat now, do I go on a strict diet as espoused by the American Heart Association which statistically doesn’t reap many benefits.  Or, shall I continue with my low carb, high fat, starch and sugar-free way of eating?

In a period of three months, this way of eating eliminated 30 years of excruciating pain generated by a hereditary spinal condition.  Had I not done this strict diet I’d be in a wheelchair by now, unable to walk, unable to move freely, spending lots of time in bed as my dear sister Susan (four years older than me) who suffers from the same spinal condition and has been lying in bed for 12 years or more.  That would have been me.

We’d never have left the US and traveled the world as we have for almost six and a half years, with hopes and dreams of more.  It was only months after the pain and inflammation subsided that we decided to “step outside the box” and travel for as long as we could.  

It’s been a glorious situation and we long for more.  Is this all I get?  Am I greedy to want more?  Goodness is it wrong to want more happiness and fulfillment when we’ve worked so hard to achieve it?  This lifestyle in itself hasn’t always been easy.
Kudus hanging out with Basket who was less aggressive than usual.

If I follow a low-fat diet, the pain will return and within months so will the quality of life bringing a rapid end to our travels and the lifestyle we so much love.

If I continue to eat low carb, high fat, moderate protein diet, will my arteries become clogged again in a few years?  The two doctors, the cardiologist, and the thoracic surgeon both said diet for me has little to do with what transpires in the future.  

They said the plaque developed over a period of 20 or 30 years, most of which I spent eating a very low-fat diet as espoused by the US government as healthy.  Even then, knowing my heredity, I was trying to avert the inevitable, as I’d watched family members suffer and die from heart disease, diabetes, and other inflammatory diseases. 

I “assumed” by staying slim and fit, I’d be exempt.  How wrong I was!  Before I began this way of eating in 2011, I was diagnosed as pre-diabetic, only a short time away from taking medication.  

Once I began this way of eating within months, I was no longer pre-diabetic…there was no indication of any potential for type-two diabetes which ran rampant in my family.

Harmony in the garden on a sunny day.

My heart disease is not gone. It’s a hereditary and ongoing illness. The pipes have been replaced but they can and most likely clog again in five, eight, ten years.  Would I have to go through this again when I’m in my late 70’s or 80’s?  Could I go through this again?  It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my entire life.

Science is unclear.  Studies are conflicting and many are skewed.  There’s no clear answer.  Pain or heart attack, which do I choose?  Therein lies the oxymoron, the conflict, the frustration coupled with the uncertainty of the future.

But then, we’re all uncertain of what the future holds, aren’t we?  And I’ve recently spent the happiest six-plus years of my life.  Not everyone can single out a segment of time where they’ve been fulfilled, content, and in awe of the world around them.

As darkness fell, Mike and Joe stopped by with a few zebras and helmeted guineafowls.

The doctors here both told me my heart was very strong and healthy.  They even went as far of stating it is the heart of a 35-year-old and that my lifetime of exercising is why I am alive today when I had three of four arteries 100% blocked.  I was functioning at 25%.  My strong heart kept me going.  Thank you, my heart.  Thank you for saving me.

For all the criticism I received from family and friends that I exercised too often, too much, claiming I was obsessed, now proved to serve me well.  Why I didn’t collapse from a heart attack during those years with blocked arteries, baffles me today.

So now?  Am I “telling it like it is?” Overall, the answer is yes although I must admit I’ve kept some of it to myself.  Seeing it in print sheds a whole new light on the reality of this dilemma the answers to which I’ll continue to research until I’m satisfied the path is clear.

Heredity is a lot bigger part of our future than I’d ever imagined. In time and with advances in science solutions may become more clear.  For now, in part, its speculation and a guessing game.  

May we all come out as winners.


Photo from one year ago today, March 22, 2018:

This morning, in the rain, nine zebras stopped by for a visit and some snacks.  It was delightful to see them a second time in our yard although it wasn’t the same “dazzle” of zebras as the last time.  For more photos, please click here.

Power outages leaving us frustrated…Why don’t we leave?…Holiday time in SA…More tourists in the park…

Mr. Duiker resting in the garden

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

This mongoose must have been injured when he was dragging his back legs using his front legs.  So sad to see.

Many of our readers have written to us asking why we don’t leave and go somewhere else while we await our flight to Ireland on May 11th.  The heat, humidity, and power outages are outrageous.

There are several reasons we haven’t left and here they are:

  • We prepaid the rent for the Orange house until May 11th and don’t feel it would be fair to ask Louise for a refund when it’s already been paid to the owners.
  • We can’t leave the country while we await our visa extension which may or may not be processed in time for our departure.  The power outages are country-wide not only Marloth Park.  Eskom the provider has run out of money and resource.
  • If we left we’d have to find another place to live and pay for the new place and all of its expenses.  After all the money we lost canceling venues when I had to have the triple coronary bypass surgery on February 12, spending more doesn’t make sense to us.
  • We may not have daily housekeeping service which has been a tremendous help during this period of time.
  • We have many friends here who’ve been helpful and supportive.  Although our social life is limited until I recover more fully, our friends have been a vital element in my recovery.
  • Seeing the wildlife each day has had a positive effect on my recovery.
  • Unable to travel for 90 days due to surgery and complications.

Bushbucks munching on pellets.

And then, of course, there’s my old theory of “Love the One You’re With” like the song found here.  This house, the bush, the wildlife, and our friends have been our home for the past 13 months.  When one is ill or recovering, the need to be in familiar surroundings is a vital part of their recovery. Everyone wants to be “home” during such times.

But, that doesn’t make us feel more tolerant of the scorching heat and the almost eight hours of power outages each day.  It isn’t like the US here in Africa when houses have “central air conditioning.”  The high cost of running central air here would be outrageous.

Zebras have stopped by almost every day.

Luckily, when we do have power we can escape to the bedroom with its wall aircon which is very good at cooling the room.  No, we don’t like spending time in the bedroom during the day but it is a means of relief for an hour or two.
Aside from all of this, we have established a good routine that is working well for us as I continue to heal.  I have yet been able to follow our old routine of sitting outdoors at the big table all day since I have to keep my feet up due to the infections which are now beginning to heal, a little more each day.

Instead, I sit up with pillows propping me to a sitting position with my legs on a pillow on the sofa.   There’s a large table fan running aimed directly at me.  This helps a lot.
Such an adorable face.

Are we upset and unhappy now?  Not at all.  We both feel hopeful for the future, enjoy each other’s companionship and are otherwise comfortable.  Tom downloads his favorite podcasts so we can listen during the power outages.

We’re extremely conscious of ensuring our phones and laptops are fully charged.  When the power goes out so does the WiFi. Luckily, we can play games on our phones when the power is out.  Neither of us cares to sit quietly and do nothing for the better part of the day.

Soon, Tom will leave to go grocery shopping and to the pharmacy for more bandages and antibiotic cream.  We really don’t need much food right now since we’re well stocked.  

Plus, with the power outages, we’d prefer not to keep a lot of perishables in the fridge or freezer.  We’d made my pie in an attempt to keep me from losing more weight if I ate one piece each night after dinner.  But due to the power outages, we had to throw away the second half when it had mold on it.  I guess I won’t be making any more of these.
That’s right.  Pose for the camera and see if you get pellets.  You did!

I’d like to go to the market with Tom but can’t walk well enough for the trek around the market.  I tried this last week and it was a fiasco.  I wouldn’t want to wait in the car in the heat while he shops.

With most of our friends gone right now, to their other homes, I made a reservation for the two of us for Jabula on Saturday night.  I definitely feel a need to get out of the house and mingle with other local friends who are often mulling around the bar at Happy Hour. 

National holiday times are often referred to as “school holidays” here in South Africa.  This school holiday began on March 18th and continues through April 1st leaving only 10 days until it ends.  We have seen less wildlife in the garden but not as few as during other holiday periods.

That’s it for today, folks.  Again, thank you for the many online cards, email letters, and comments as we work our way through this somewhat challenging period.

May your day be free of challenges and bring you peace of mind and comfort.

Photo from one year ago today, March 21, 2018:
I was indoors preparing dinner while Tom noticed this mongoose digging a hole in the yard.  Please click here for more.