Moving through the days and nights with hope and love…

Early last week, when Jeff was still with us, he dropped a chunk of chicken on the veranda during a meal together on the veranda. Later that night, after they’d gone to bed, Tom spotted this genet enjoying the piece of chicken.

This morning, Lindsey and Connie took off for a day in Kruger National Park. We decided to let them go on their own to be able to have some private time without us in tow. They wanted to exchange all the clothes Connie purchased for Jeff in the shop at Lower Sabie for special gifts for his closest friends back in the US. How generous and thoughtful.

But generosity and thoughtfulness have been the nature of all our experiences over the past five days. Many of our readers have written to us with kind condolences, including friends from all over the world. Many have expressed concern over how Tom and I are doing under these circumstances.

Our only concern has been to make Connie and Lindsey feel as much comfort and love as we could provide during this sorrowful time. Neither of us has given a thought to our emotions. For us, our focus has been on their well-being and comfort.  We discussed the day’s events at night when we were alone in our bedroom. We are both sad this happened but glad we were able to share this sorrowful experience with Connie and Lindsey.

But, most of all, we are grateful Jeff was able to see the unique wildlife in our garden and then experience the wildlife in Kruger National Park, fulfilling his lifelong dreams of Africa. It was a joy to watch his expressions of sheer wonder when Mother Nature bestowed her treasured gifts upon us as we gawked in awe at the majesty of wildlife in Africa.

We took these three photos through the glass on the veranda door in the dark, resulting in poor-quality photos. If we’d added light or waited, we’d have lost the opportunity since any sound would drive the genet away.

Now, as the time Connie and Lindsey are staying in Marloth Park with us winds down, we’ve packed the remaining time together with more beautiful experiences; dinner out on Friday night at Jabula, where they were greeted with warm hugs and sincere condolences, let alone the great food, festive atmosphere and friendly banter among strangers who felt like friends before the evening ended.

Then, there’s been the two evenings we dined out since Jeff passed away; Amazing Kruger View with Louise and Danie on Thursday and, as mentioned, Friday night at Jabula. For the remaining three evenings, we dined on our veranda with good food, animal watching, and plenty of wine and drinks amid countless conversations and topics; many centered around Jeff and his life.

Last night, we made our low-carb pizza and salad, and the four of us dined and lounged on the veranda until well after dark and load shedding started again. Finally, the bugs got so bad that we had to go inside and all headed off to bed for an early night. Tom and I streamed a TV series on my laptop, and after I started nodding off, he stayed up and watched the Minnesota Vikings game until almost midnight.

I don’t ask Tom to wear earbuds when he watches the game in bed. For some odd reason, the sound of the football game is comforting to me, and I sleep right through it. Plus, the pills I take for headaches and facial pain make me very sleepy. I take the one tablet at 9:00  pm, 2100 hrs., to ensure I am not too sleepy in the morning. But, after taking the pill I can stay up for several hours if necessary.

Loouise and Danie told us that recently the genet has been eating their francolin’s chicks. They had six and now are down to one.

During the day, I feel a little sleepy but not enough to require a nap. However, the headache and facial pain are almost entirely gone. I hold my breath when I say this since suddenly, for no reason at all, it is painful  again but improves a short time later. I have no idea how long I’ll have to take the drug. Right now, I am not concerned about that. In a few weeks, I must return to Doc Theo for the next refill.

Today, with Connie and Lindsey gone for the day to Kruger National Park, we’ll work on future planning and financial projects we’ve postponed. Nothing was urgent since we’d prepared for their arrival and had addressed most tasks we had pending.

When they return and when Tom returns from returning the car to Nelspruit, we’ll cook another fresh homemade pizza we saved for tonight, having pizza two nights in a row. Tonight will be another evening on the veranda commiserating over the events of the past five days and mutually sharing stories from our lives and our adventures. Of course, we’ll be enjoying wildlife visits now that the holiday weekend is over.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, September 26, 2021:

A thick-tailed bushbaby was eating yogurt we left out. For more, please click here.

What are the legal requirements in South Africa for foreigners handling the death of a loved one?…

Jeff in 2015, at a private chateau in France where Connie performed services as a professional chef.

If this headline makes no sense to you, please read yesterday’s post when we described the sad loss of our friend Jeff who came to stay with us in Marloth Park with his beloved wife, Connie, and their daughter Lindsey, to finally fulfill a lifelong dream of seeing the wildlife in Africa. Please read yesterday’s post here.

We are all still reeling from the sorrowful experience, but somehow manage to spend quality time together in the bush until they depart next Friday to return to the US with Jeff’s ashes. There won’t be a memorial service in South Africa, but it will be arranged when they return to the US to include their family and friends.

So here’s the story of what transpired from a legal perspective when our dear friend Jeff passed away during the night and was discovered on Wednesday morning on September 21st, only four days ago as of today, Sunday, September 25, 2022.

Once Connie and Tom determined that Jeff didn’t have a pulse, we first notified Louise and Danie, who immediately got to work to figure out the process. They had never lost a guest in one of their properties or a loved one while living in Marloth Park.

Within about 10 minutes, vehicles started entering our driveway, from honorary rangers to local officials and police to local EMTs. Our friend Patty Pan, an honorary ranger, arrived and was a great comfort to Connie, Lindsey, Tom, and me. Everyone was so respectful and kind with their words and attentiveness.

The flurry of activity kept us all busy during those difficult first few hours. Connie and Lindsey had endless questions to answer and documents to provide regarding Jeff’s medical history to ensure there had been no “foul play” in his passing. A wonderful local policeman, Dan, who lives a few blocks from us and over the next 24 hours, provided endless support in the process.

When the mortician arrived, and Jeff was carried away, an additionally heartbreaking moment in this process, the following steps required to fulfill the process necessary in South Africa for foreigners passing away while in the country were described to us in detail. At the time, remembering everything was challenging due to our emotional state.

Thank goodness for policeman Dan. He arrived at 8:00 am the following day He not only walked us through the entire process but he drove his police vehicle with the flashers on and advised us to do the same as we followed behind him while we drove for over an hour to the distant town of Tonga, where we’d go through the following process to meet the legal requirements of South Africa. Dan escorted us while the mortician helped Connie at each of the following locations, ensuring she always was able to get to the front of the queue:

  1. Doctor’s office: to obtain the official certificate of death (including the cause of death) – time for the entire process -60 minutes
  2. Police station: to complete forms such as an “application for cremation,” – time for the entire process – 20 minutes
  3. Home Affairs Office: an unabridged death certificate was issued – time for the entire process – 30 minutes
  4. Mortician’s Office: to discuss the cost of cremation, select an appropriate coffin for cremation and settle on financial matters. At first, an expensive coffin was suggested which made no sense. After negotiation (expected in South Africa), Connie settled on a logical and respectful coffin, and we were on our way. To our surprise, the funeral home did not accept a credit card, and the only payment method was through ETF, a bank transfer that was accomplished within 24 – 60 minutes.

Dan stayed with us through the entire above process, making suggestions and answering questions each step of the way. The mortician, as mentioned above, attended each of the above steps with Connie and was able to speed the process along. The entire process took about three hours plus about two hours driving time, for a total of about five hours.

The cremation is planned for Tuesday morning and the mortician will deliver the ashes  to Marloth Park in a TSA (airline security) approved container. Connie will carry the ashes as a carry-on.

The entire cost for the cremation, coffin, and other services was under US $2000, ZAR 35852.

For additional information, please click here at the South Africa Home Affair website.

Please feel free to ask any questions using our comments section at the bottom of the post.

We’ll continue to share details as the process progresses over the next few days.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, September 25, 2021:

We made two large pans of apple crisp and one smaller pan. We’ll bring one large pan to Kathy and Don’s tonight and keep one large and small pan at home. For more photos, please click here.

A heartbreaking loss at our holiday home in the bush…Human, not animal…I had to pretend…

Jeff, sitting at the table on our veranda on the day before he passed away, getting ready to take a photo of the wildlife in the garden,

Today is Saturday. On Wednesday, our dear friend and houseguest Jeff, husband of friend Connie and dad of adult daughter Lindsay who arrived last Saturday (and dad to son David, who wasn’t here), passed away in bed at our holiday home in Marloth Park, South Africa. When Connie awoke on Wednesday morning, she assumed Jeff was still asleep.

Checking further, she realized he wasn’t breathing. She came to our door (they were staying in the two guest cottages on our holiday home property), and Tom rushed out to help. As a former fireman, he knew exactly what to do. He confirmed Connie’s assessment. Our friend Jeff had passed away in bed.

Jeff suffered from a fatal disease called MSA, Multiple System Atrophy, described as follows from this site:

“Multiple system atrophy (MSA) is a rare condition of the nervous system that causes gradual damage to nerve cells in the brain. This affects balance, movement, and the autonomic nervous system, which controls several basic functions, such as breathing, digestion, and bladder control.”

Jeff’s dream was to come to Africa to see the wildlife, and he did. On Tuesday, we all went into Kruger National Park, and Jeff, sitting in the front seat of their rented van, could see many species throughout the day. That night, when we returned, we had a nice dinner, after which he and Tom watched a Minnesota Vikings football game, enjoying every moment.

When we initially invited them to stay with us, we knew we wanted to do everything we could to make the visit memorable and meaningful for him, Connie, and Lindsey, who were loving and diligent caregivers, never burdened by the challenges, only burdened by the severity of his illness and how little time was left for him to cherish those he loved and his passion for coming to Africa.

Although Jeff’s speech was impaired due to his illness, his brain was sharp, and he and Tom chatted endlessly.  It was rewarding to witness how much fun he had been having in the place he longed to see before it was too late. Tom and Jeff always enjoyed lively conversation during the 31 years we’ve all been friends.

Over the past ten years, we’ve been friends; we’ve stayed in touch and had a chance for a few get-togethers when we visited Minnesota. They lived only a few kilometers from our home in our old lives. With Connie as a professional chef and me loving to cook and entertain, we often got together over great food and drinks.

In tomorrow’s post, I will share the process of a foreigner’s passing while in South Africa and the wonderful people who supported the process in the past few days.

I apologize for not mentioning this in the past several posts, which I struggled to write, having to alter some of the text to avoid letting anyone know. I didn’t want to put it out there for the world to see when family and friends needed to be notified of Jeff’s passing instead of seeing it online. Connie had posted a few links to our site before their arrival, and many of their loved ones could have been reading our posts. Now that most of their family and friends have been notified, I can reveal the sorrowful passing of Jeff on our site.

We’ll be back with more tomorrow.

Be well. Cherish the day.

Photo from one year ago today, September 24, 2021:

Young kudu on the veranda at the old house. For more photos, please click here.

The wonders of the bush continue to thrill our guests…A first time visitor…

How wonderful this lovely lizard stopped by for our guests to see! “Agama is a genus of small-to-moderate-sized, long-tailed, insectivorous Old World lizards. The genus Agama includes at least 37 species in Africa, especially sub-Saharan Africa, where most regions are home to at least one species. Eurasian agamids are largely assigned to genus Laudakia.”

No words can describe how meaningful it is to have friends from afar experiencing Marloth Park with us. Meeting the wonderful locals and our friends and seeing all the stunning wildlife is hard to explain to an outsider. For those who are not animal lovers, these experiences may hold little significance.

“Reptile. Agama lizards are sometimes called rainbow lizards because of the colorful displays put on by the dominant males. While most agamas are green and brown, dominant males show off by rapidly turning their bodies blue and their heads bright red or yellow. Most agamas live in small groups, with the dominant male ruling over several females and sub-males. While sunning themselves each morning, the dominant male will claim the most elevated spot, with subordinates in lower areas. Agamas hunt by vision and prefer to wait for an insect to come by. Their sticky tongues help them hold onto prey.”

But, for the rest of us, each interaction leaves us reeling with pure delight. Once our friends leave at the end of the month, Tom and I will continue to treasure every day as we always have.

Now, as I write this, everyone is taking a much-needed nap. Our days and nights have been filled with one activity after another. Tom and I, used to all the commotion, are still sitting at the table on the veranda, watching numerous birds stopping at the birdbath, as shown in the photo below, to drink and bathe in the clean water.

Do you recognize this birdbath? Louise had the boys bring it here from our last holiday home, Lovebird’s Nest. We love all the birds and animals stopping by for a drink. In the background is a pile of lucerne we placed on a cement structure after receiving our second lucerne delivery this week.

Numerous animals have stopped by to drink. Now that the weather is warming up again, having access to clean drinking water is essential for our animal friends. Sure, they can search throughout Marloth Park to find a suitable waterhole, but such water sources are often dirty and filled with mud. Tom refills the birdbath a few times a day with fresh water.

With two bales of lucerne(hay) delivered here this week on Monday and Thursday, we had an opportunity to see many animals at one time. In some cases, there were no more animals than usual since our garden appears to be a desirable place to visit.  You may say, “No wonder! The animals are being fed.”

An adorable bushbaby stopped by to partake of the little yogurt cup we left for her in the evening. Our friends loved seeing her.

But it’s much more than being about food. The number of animals that come here often clearly illustrates how safe they feel here. It is instinctual for wildlife to remain on alert for life-threatening predators. Sure, there are lions and leopards in Marloth Park. Recently, they’ve just about obliterated the entire ostrich population in the park, along with countless impalas and warthogs.

To see these beloved animals feel safe around us is heartwarming on the one hand but terrifying on the other. Lions and leopards could just as easily come to our garden as anywhere else in the park. At night, we often hear the roar of these dangerous beasts. On Facebook, we often see photos of the remains of an animal that the large cats had partially devoured.

Lots of bushbucks, kudus, and wildebeests hanging around.

They can “run, but they can’t hide.” Nature always wins. A starving lion is as entitled to eat as the gentle little bushbucks that come to our garden for pellets, carrots, and other vegetables and fruits. Who’s to say one wild creature is more or less deserving of eating than another? It’s all a part of the life cycle in the wild, and we have no control over how it ultimately plays out.

This morning Tom took some photos and a video while Connie and I were getting our pedicures at Imbewe Spa (where I go once a month to have my toes done) when he spotted Norman and his son Noah, who’s maturing quickly in what appeared to be a horns-to-horns scuffle. Was Norman teaching Noah how to defend himself, or was he giving Noah the message that it’s time for him to move to another territory and let loose of following his mom and dad around?

Tulip and her daughter, Lilac.

We’ll only know the answer to this question soon if we see Norman and Nina visiting without their son. The three of them often visit two or three times a day. Will we ever see Noah again when so many residents in Marloth Park have never seen the nyala family as those of us in this area have been blessed to witness, day after day?

Ah, if only “they” could talk and tell us their intentions. How fascinating that would be. But, like us humans with a degree of uncertainty about our eventual demise, we don’t get to know precisely what our wildlife friends are thinking. It’s another one of those “mysteries of life” we don’t get to know.

Soon, we’re off to Jabula with friends for our usual Friday night dinner.  May all of you have a lovely evening as well.

Photo from one year ago today, September 23, 2021:

A new bushbuck to our garden, Short Horn. Notice the size difference between his right and left horns. For more photos, please click here.

The remainder of our Kruger photos…More exciting photos to come…

Lindsey’s incredible photo of two hippos carrying on.

Today, we share more photos from our Tuesday visit to Kruger National Park. Our guests are still reeling from the adventure.

Early this morning, Norman, Noah, and Nina were waiting for us when Tom opened the doors to the veranda. He came to tell me, and I bolted out of bed to toss them some carrots while Tom refilled the bucket of pellets from the storeroom across the car park.

A bloat of hippos in the Sabie River.

In moments, the garden was packed with wildlife, and we both were busy feeding the various animals. In no time, our guests joined us at the veranda table, coffee in hand, and reveled in the wonder of the wildlife visiting us.

Our guests had some paperwork to tackle and preferred to stay in while I busied myself with household tasks and piles of laundry now that it was sunny again. Our linen napkins were dirty, and I wanted to get them washed before our next meal at the house.

We enjoyed watching this elephant.

Based on our plan to go to Amazing Kruger View for dinner and Crocodile River viewing tonight before sunset and tomorrow night at Jabula for our usual Friday night dinner, I won’t be making dinner again until Saturday. Rita and Gerhard will join us tomorrow evening.

Adorable baby elephant.

We are staying busy with our guests and looking forward to returning to Kruger in the next few days. They loved lunch at the Mugg & Bean and shopping in the fabulous gift shop at Lower Sabie. Of course, the wildlife sightings were the highlight of the day.

Moms and babies…

Tom and I are doing well. Neither of us stresses when we have houseguests. We maneuver through the days and evenings with ease. These wonderful friends are especially easy to host since they are blissfully resourceful and independent.

Plus, with them living in the two flats with their kitchen suitable for making a hot breakfast, coffee, and snacks, my only contribution is making dinner (with Connie’s help) and Tom doing his usual job of washing dishes, pots, and pans.

The moms and babies were fun to watch.

With Zef and Vusi cleaning five days a week, there’s little else for us to do otherwise: pick up after ourselves and clean up the kitchen after prepping and cooking meals.

They have also made their lunches since we stocked their flats with plenty of breakfast and lunch foods.  Most days, when we stay in, they make sandwiches for themselves and bring them to our house for more wildlife watching during their meal. Easy-peasy for us.

An elephant at the Verhami Dam.

As mentioned above, soon we’ll head to Amazing Kruger View for sundowners and dinner later. Hopefully, we will spot some wonders on the river, adding to the repertoire of photos they have collected during their stay.

Stay well. We will be back with more tomorrow!

Photo from one year ago today, September 22, 2021:

Impalas have such pretty faces and markings. A helmeted guinea fowl manages to “photo-bomb.” For more photos, please click here.

More photos from Kruger National Park with friends…

Safari luck prevailed when we spotted these two cheetahs.

In a short time, Connie and I will head to the Imbewe Spa to have pedicures. It will be a fun break for us to luxuriate in the excellent service Patience and her staff provide. We’ll get our treatments simultaneously from two technicians, which will take about 90 minutes.

When we return, they’ll have lunch, and I’ll get back to work making bacon-wrapped meatloaf. We’ll add mashed potatoes, butternut squash, and salad to another excellent meal for the five of us. Last night, we did takeaway for dinner since we returned late from Kruger.

We couldn’t get a full-face photo of each cheetah when they never turned around before wandering off.

It was the first time since we’d been at this house. We did takeaway for dinner. Nothing on the menu worked for my way of eating, so I had leftover chicken salad and coleslaw from the previous day. We all had enjoyed our special day in Kruger and had worked up an appetite.

While I wrapped up yesterday’s post, Connie headed to the Tin Shack to pick up the four meals. At the same time, Tom and Jeff sat at the dining room table, since it was pelting rain outside, watching the Monday night football game between the Minnesota Vikings Game and the Philadelphia Eagles. Of course, the Vikings lost, and both were disappointed.

A bloat of hippos is seen from the bridge crossing the Sabie River.

Connie, Lindsey, and I sat at the table with the guys, chatting and sharing stories while the football game echoed in the background. The atmosphere was fun and festive while we all stayed indoors, reveling in our day’s adventures in the national park.

We ended up not getting off to bed until after 10:00 pm, 2200 hrs., and set up another episode of season nine of The Blacklist. Unfortunately, I nodded off midway through the show when Tom woke me up, suggesting I get under the covers and sleep. The past few days have been busy and fun since our friends arrived, after spending the past several months nursing my aching head and face and spending a part of the day resting.

Not long in the park, we spotted two moms and two babies. Our friends were so excited!

But, amid all the good times and commotion, I am finally beginning to feel better after almost a week on the increased dose of the medication. I can hardly express how grateful I am to be improving a little more each day. I still get the headache a few times each day, but the facial pain is gone as of a few days ago.

This morning we had a close encounter with a single giraffe who came up the veranda. She was gone when I got the camera, and we never got the photo. We were pleasantly surprised by how many animals came to visit this morning in the rain, but we took the time to enjoy each one of them, tossing pellets into the garden.

This photo was taken about one kilometer across the Sabie River. That’s the best my camera could capture.

We’re staying in today since it’s raining hard, off and on, every hour or so. Tonight, after sundowners, we’ll have a nice dinner inside the house and continue the delightful conversation.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, September 21, 2021:

This morning, the mongoose’s fur got wet and looked spikey! Ironically, it’s raining today. They’ll look the same if they visit. For more photos, please click here.

A rewarding day in Kruger National Park with friends…

Two waterbucks near the Vurhami dam.

With rainy weather on the horizon today and tomorrow, we all decided to chance it and go to Kruger National Park this morning. We realized the risk of a rainy and windy day existed, but we were all willing to give it a go. By the time we left, it was drizzling, but we were happily on our way.

Young waterbuck at Vurhami Dam.

Fortunately, we spotted some decent sightings before the rainfall escalated about an hour into the drive on the paved road. It always surprises us when we see so much wildlife when driving on the only tarred road in the vicinity of the Crocodile Bridge. But sightings are galore, and we’re rarely disappointed.

Stork at the Verhami Dam.

No more than 40 minutes into the drive, several “parades” of elephants gave us quite a show, and Tom and I were excited for our three friends to experience the sightings. It is an exquisite joy to share this with our friends from afar. They often expressed their utter pleasure in these experiences.

Yellow-billed stork at Verhami Dam.

The rain impeded our views from time to time, but we forged on with enthusiasm and commitment to see as much as possible. We were lucky to see what we did and look forward to sharing more photos in days to come. We didn’t get back to the house until almost 5:45, which meant we spent a whole day in Kruger after arriving shortly after 10:00 am. Often people say you can’t see anything of significance unless you arrive at the break of dawn, but we’ve never found it necessary to arrive so early in the morning. We don’t like getting up at 5:00 am to go to Kruger.

We stopped for lunch at the ever-popular Mugg & Bean, enjoying a nice meal and conversation! How fun it is to share the wonders of the bush with our friends who have never been to Africa in the past. Connie, Jeff, and Lindsey were shocked by the reasonable prices of the food and the quality of our lunches.

Baboons were hanging off the bank of the Sabie River.

The bridge over the Sabie River offered some good hippo sightings. We took many photos of hippos, as shown in today’s pictures, let alone the many others we’ve yet to post. After lunch, we headed to the Sunset Dam to see crocodiles, storks, herons, and hippos, which further rounded out of viewing experience.

We didn’t return to the house until after 5:00 pm, 1700 hrs., which was too late to defrost meat for dinner, so we decided to order takeaway from the Tin Shack restaurant, the first experience for all of us. There were leftovers from last night’s dinner that I opted to eat as opposed to ordering takeaway for myself. There’s rarely anything on a takeaway menu that works for my way of eating.

A leopard turtle crosses the red.

It was a great day with friends, sharing Kruger National Park, including their shopping spree in the fantastic gift shop at the Mugg & Bean. They loved every moment and made several purchases.

It rained most of the day, and the rain continued as we rolled into the evening. We dined indoors at the dining room table, which was lovely. Tom and Jeff watched the Vikings football game together while seated at the dining room table while we all had dinner and much delayed sundowners.

Be well. More to follow tomorrow.

Photo from one year ago today, September 20, 2021:
Wildebeests in the driveway. They eventually headed to the back garden for pellets; for more photos, please click here.

Safari luck has begun for our guests…

This oxpecker let out a call while standing on a giraffe’s neck.

Yesterday, we had only a few visitors stop by during the day since it was a Sunday and the park was still busy with tourists. As a result, we wanted Connie, Jeff, and Lindsey to see wildlife as soon as possible. We all got into their rented van and drove around Marloth Park to see what we could find.

Much to our delight, the animals didn’t disappoint. Today, we’re sharing some of the photos from that outing. We were glad to know we could all view the wildlife we encountered through the windows in the roomy van. Connie drove while the rest of us searched the bush for more sightings. It was an enjoyable time.

Note the oxpecker on the side of this giraffe’s neck.

Our guests used their phones to take photos, while I used the camera to get the shots we’re sharing today and tomorrow. We’ve found that most first-time visitors to Marloth Park often use their phones for photos but usually bring a camera when they return.

We’d invited Rita and Gerhard to join us for dinner, and we barely got back to the house in time for their arrival. Of course, I had to get busy preparing some starters. I decided to make easy starters and an equally easy dinner. We served peanuts, crackers and cheese, and biltong for the starters.

Giraffes are such attractive animals.

We served filet mignon, baked potatoes with sour cream, white rice, steamed broccolini, and mixed greens salad for dinner.  We didn’t do dessert since no one cared for sweets after dinner. However, on Saturday, I’m going to make a big pan of apple crisp.

Miraculously, I don’t have a headache today, nor is my face hurting. I’ve had periods over the past few days when the pain has  disappeared intermittently. But today, three weeks after I started the medication, the drugs seem to have fully kicked in. How long this pain-free state will last is beyond me, but I am savoring every moment right now.

Three giraffes in a row.

Dinner progressed without incident, and Tom did a great job cooking the steaks on the braai, perfectly cooked to each person’s preference. He did mine and Connie’s rare steaks precisely as we’d like. By the time dinner was over, I was exhausted. I couldn’t do another thing.

Over the past several months while I had the headache, since April 20th, when we tested positive for Covid-19, I’ve spent much time resting each day. However, we continued to entertain guests, go for dinner, and even travel out of the country; I never rebuilt my stamina.

Once I’ve been pain-free for a while, I’ll start walking again, trying to get close to 8000 to 10000 steps per day, and will spend less time sitting as much as I have these past few months. I’m looking forward to feeling more like myself again, active, energized, and full of enthusiasm.

Look at all these oxpeckers on the giraffe’s neck.

A bale of lucerne was delivered today, the first of two we ordered this week. The next one will come on Thursday, and we’ll also repeat this cycle next week while our guests are here. To our surprise, only a few animals have eaten off of the bale so far, two wildebeests and Tulip and Lilac. Hopefully, today more animals will come.

We hope to go into Kruger tomorrow based on how everyone feels and the weather. Rain is predicted this week which wouldn’t be an ideal time to go into the park. As always, we’ll “play it by ear.”

Have a fantastic day!

Photo from one year ago today, September 19, 2021:

One Wart is a frequent visitor. For more photos please click here.

It’s wonderful having houseguests…Can’t wait for Monday!…Exciting new sighting!…

Sorry, this is the back of a ground hornbill, a large bird we’d never seen in Marloth Park in the past. We couldn’t grab the camera quickly enough, but they moved away fast; these two shots were all we could get.

Why would I possibly wish time to fly at my age? There are only two reasons: one, the holidaymakers will have left after the weekend, and the animals will return to our garden; two, we’re having lucerne delivered, and more animals than we’ll be able to count will finish off an entire bale in one day.

Sundays are always quieter in the garden except, so far this morning, Norman, Nina, and Noah, several bushbucks, Delilah, and three ground hornbills (the first sighting for us other than when we’re in Kruger) also ran through the garden quickly preventing me from taking good photos other than the few I have posted here today.

Another distant view of the ground hornbill.

Our guests are still in their little cottages after a long flight and two travel days, but as I write this now, Lindsey just arrived and was happy to see a bushbuck in the garden. They missed the morning influx, but hopefully, more will come throughout the day.

This was a little lunch I put together yesterday for my boy Norman. He loved every bite.

Last night during dinner, which turned out well, we only had three huge warthogs in the garden napping at the edge of the veranda. From the size of the tusks, we determined it was Mom and Babies, and they hung around for a few hours.  But our guests enjoyed seeing the pigs but weren’t quite able to understand my affection for warthogs. In these next few weeks, I genuinely believe they will understand why.

My boy Norman came to call this morning before our friends were up. We hope that he and his family return soon.

We are thrilled to have Connie, Jeff, and Lindsey here. We have had a great time commiserating with them since we’ve been friends for over 30 years, have many great memories, and are excited to make new memories.  Last night’s dinner was fantastic, and now as I write this after taking many breaks, the three of them are sitting at the table on the veranda.

Nina, Norman’s partner, also stopped by this morning.

It’s a beautiful day today, thank goodness not as hot as yesterday’s 98F, 37C. There’s a slight breeze, and the humidity is relatively low at 26%. By dark, it cools down considerably when we’re sitting outdoors enjoying our dinner and watching for wildlife.

Last night’s dinner was a huge success. We were surprised the our three houseguests held up so well after the two travel days, including yesterday’s long drive from Johannesburg to Marloth Park. By 9:00 pm, 2100 hrs., they headed to the two cottages for the night. After a good night’s rest this morning, they are all feeling better and ready to enjoy time in the bush.

Norman was sniffing Nina.

This morning Louise dropped off another battery-powered lantern, so each of us has enough to get us through the frequent load shedding that escalated to Stage 6 as last night. This means that for 10 hours a day, we won’t have power for 12  hours. This is too much. Eskom is supposed to have a big press conference today to discuss the 500 billion rands they need to stop load shedding, which translates to about 28.4 billion US dollars.

We doubt that will ever happen, so we don’t see an end to this. There’s no way this country can come up with that sum to alleviate the possibility of a total blackout. I just read an update from Eskom stating that Stage 6 is unavoidable, or there would be a total blackout. This would be a fiasco and certainly impact our desire to continue our desire to stay here much longer.

Norman and Nina…

We can only wait and see what happens. As I’ve been typing this post, our power went out again. It’s been a few hours, and it hasn’t come back on yet. Louise checked on it, and apparently, it’s a  municipal fault, not more load shedding. We’ll get more of that starting in a few hours. Oh, good grief.

My boy…he’s so handsome.

TIA…This is Africa. This is what happens here. We do everything we can to get through this. Meanwhile, we’re enjoying time with our friends and looking forward to seeing more of our wildlife friends.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, September 18, 2021:

When peering out the kitchen window, we saw this image in the front of our house. For more photos, please click here.

Guests arriving today…Busy cooking (menu shown below) and getting their cottages well stocked…Stage 5 load shedding…

Two very young kudus showed up today without their moms for the first time. Maybe she’s sent them off on their own or she was nearby.

Our friends Connie, Jeff, and daughter Lindsey arrived in Joburg last night, sending us to text to alert us to their arrival. They spent the night at the airport hotel, where we stayed a few times. The City Lodge is conveniently located within the airport and provides a good place to stay to avoid driving to Marloth Park in the dark, which is highly dangerous due to the risk of a carjacking on the highway.

“The hadada ibis (Bostrychia hagedash), also called hadeda, is an ibis native to Sub-Saharan Africa. It is named for its loud three to four note calls uttered in flight especially in the mornings and evenings when they fly out or return to their roost trees. Although not as dependent on water as some ibises, they are found near wetlands and often live in close proximity to humans, foraging in cultivated land and gardens. A medium-sized ibis with stout legs and a typical down-curved bill, the wing coverts are iridescent with a green or purple sheen. They are non-migratory but are known to make nomadic movement.”

It’s a 4½ hour’s drive from Johannesburg to Marloth Park. Once they arrive at the Gate 2 entrance to Marloth Park, they will call us, and we’ll drive to meet them at the gate while they register for their entrance pass, which they’ll keep while they are here. There are no numbers on our house, which would be impossible to find when the numbers in bush houses in the park aren’t necessarily sequential.

We’ve been busy getting ready for their arrival. Everything is all set. We’ve loaded their fridge with foods they like and stocked the two cottages with repellent, insect spray, emergency lights, soap, battery-powered fans, and more. They have everything they need for comfort, including during load shedding.

Today, there was a mating pair in our garden.

Speaking of load shedding, here is the schedule for the next few days:

Sunday Load Shedding, Stage 5

1:00 – 3:30 am

7:00 – 9: am

3:00 – 5:30 pm

11:00 am – 1:30 am

Load shedding is most challenging during the night when it’s hot. Also, as shown below, a huge consideration with food in the refrigerator and freezer during the four-hour outage is expected on Monday morning. We’ll move the perishables to the chest freezer and also put a bowl of ice in the fridge.

Searching for even the tiniest morsel in the dry bush.

Monday Load Shedding, Stage 5

7:00 – 11:30 am

3:00 – 5:30 pm

11:00 am – 1:30 am

Louise stopped by this morning to drop off two dozen eggs from a local farmer who breeds chickens that produce eggs with double yolks. Thanks, Louise! We haven’t seen an egg with a double yolk since we first arrived in Africa nine years ago. (Can you believe it?) Soon, when I get further in this post, I’ll make a few eggs to hold me until tonight’s big dinner.

Connie, a professional chef, is particularly interested in trying foods popular in South Africa, and we included several items on today’s menu

They were off on their own for awhile but joined up a short time later.

Speaking of tonight’s big dinner, here’s the menu:

Starters, sample tasting

  • Traditional beef biltong
  • Biltong seasoned bacon

Main

  • Three flattie chickens, roasted on the braai; two home seasoned and one peri peri spiced
  • Skilpadjies –  is a traditional South African food, also known by other names such as muise and vlermuise. The dish is lamb’s liver wrapped in netvet, which is the fatty membrane that surrounds the kidneys. Quite delicious
  • Boerewors – (pronounced BOO-ruh-VORS) is a fresh South African sausage that is perfect for the grill. The name means “farmer’s sausage” and comes from a combination of the Afrikaans words boer (‘farmer’) and wors (‘sausage’).Locally made and seasoned “game meat” bors – a standard type of South African sausages, cooked on the braai
  • Steamed buttery white rice
  • Roasted root vegetables
  • Mixed lettuce salad with homemade dressing

Since they don’t eat desserts, it made no sense for me to make one, but at some point, we will introduce them to the very popular Malva Pudding and Milk Tart.

After a few hours,, they suddenly flew off in a hurry making their usual “Hadada” sounds. Earsplitting, to say the least

Surely in their two weeks here in the bush, they’ll have an opportunity to try many other dishes such as Pap and Sheeba, described as  “Pap & Sheba with Grilled Sausage … This classic South African dish is also a popular braai side, served with rich tomato relish (known as sheba) and grilled.”

We look forward to sharing many of the wonders of South Africa with them, hoping they’ll leave here with the same passion for the bush we acquired over the years.

We will continue to post while they are here, albeit shorter posts on the days we go to Kruger National Park.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, September 17, 2021:

That morning, when we spotted this injured kudu in the garden. We watched this over time; eventually, it completely healed, and we could hardly see a scar. These animals are resilient with robust immune systems. For more photos, please click here.