Our friends have left…Leaving so much behind…Lindsey’s photos…

Lindsey took this fantastic photo of these four zebras lined up to eat pellets off the railing on the veranda.

Losing a loved one while in a foreign country on holiday is terrifying. Over the past few weeks, we witnessed first-hand the sorrow, the legal process, and the angst over the complicated documents and procedures necessary to complete the mountain of paperwork required.

Connie faces complicated legal issues in transferring all that accounts in the US require. But she’s highly competent and organized, and we have no doubt she’ll get through this process with grace and determination. With her children, Lindsey and David, providing love and support and the many other family members and friends they have in the US, we feel sure she’ll see her way through it all.

This morning, they packed their rental van and went to Johannesburg for their flight tomorrow. They’ll spend one night in the airport hotel, and a day later, they’ll arrive back in Minnesota. We look forward to hearing they’ve arrived safely.

Louise and Danie said these three francolins, mom, dad, and a growing chick, are from their house only a few houses away from us. Perhaps, they were scoping us out to see if they’d like to move here. Sorry, Louise!

We can only imagine how sad it will be for them to walk in the door of their family home without Jeff. The full blow of this loss will surely be felt much more significantly when they are back home.

Shortly after they left this morning, Tom and I headed to Louise and Danie’s office to drop off a few low-carb items and share some details about this sorrowful situation. In the short few weeks, Connie and Lindsey were here; they easily became close to our dear friends, which provided all the more support they needed.

Lindsay was so thoughtful when she left us a heartfelt letter thanking us for our love and support and the considerate girl that she is; she also left letters for Louise and Danie and Dawn and Leon at Jabula, all of whom wrapped their arms around them on several occasions during this period.

Since the chick doesn’t stay with its parents, maybe it will live here and find a mate. We will be watching. This is the mom and dad.

The friends we have made here reached out to them during this painful time and Connie and Lindsey often mentioned that they see why we love it here so much…not just the animals, but the humans, too. The outpouring of kindness was felt by them and by us.

Tom and I headed to Komati this morning to pick up my new prescription from Doc Theo. He was headed out for the school holiday for a week off, and I was lucky to catch him in time before he left. We picked up the prescription, stopped at dentist Luzaan’s office to book teeth cleaning appointments for both of us in a few weeks, and then drove to the pharmacy where I had the new prescription filled.

From there, we went to Spar for a few items since we didn’t need a full grocery shop until next week. Once back in Marloth Park, we drove to Daisy’s Den to purchase two bales of lucerne delivered tomorrow and Wednesday. We figured the wildlife would visit us during this upcoming holiday if we had lucerne. We’d report back if this plan was successful.

This funny expression on the male kudu’s face results from having two oxpeckers in his ears. They seem to go into a trance when this happens. Very funny.

By 1:30 PM, 1330 hrs., we were back home, putting everything away, leaving me plenty of time to finish today’s post. Thankfully, Lindsey had taken today’s fantastic photos on her phone since I was distracted and failed to take many photos the past ten days.

It will take a few days for us to return to our routine. To begin the process, we’ll return to Jabula for dinner, even after being there last night with Connie and Lindsey. Amid all the grief and sorrow, the four of us had good times together since losing Jeff. The conversation was easy, and we often found ourselves laughing amid the tears. It was a special time for all of us.

This monitor lizard scrambled across our garden so fast it was difficult to get a photo.

Tomorrow, our posts will return to our usual theme of life in the bush with our wildlife and human friends. Thank you for sharing this challenging time with us and for all the heartfelt and beautiful messages we received.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, September 30, 2021:

It’s easy to see why we call him Thick Neck. His neck is almost twice as thick as other bushbucks. For more photos, please click here.

Tomorrow morning, Connie and Lindsey begin the journey back to the US…And for us?…

This lush green tree attracted many of the giraffes. There were nine giraffes in the garden.

Today, Connie and Lindsey are organizing and packing, which includes countless pieces of medical equipment, they’ll be hauling back to the US. They are leaving one wheelchair with us, which we’ll keep upstairs to be used by whomever we encounter who may need it. Also, if Louise has any renters who may need it, we’re happy to provide it for their temporary use.

This was the first giraffe to arrive.

Once they leave, I’ll have to go through our refrigerator and clear out any food that may have begun to spoil since we’ll have eaten out four days in a row this week, including tonight at Jabula for the four of us and again tomorrow for the two of us, for our usual Friday night. Connie and Lindsey loved the idea of going to Jabula one more time before they departed, and we agreed enthusiastically.

It was fun to watch the youngsters eating leaves with their parents.

Last night, we headed to Giraffe, where we had a great conversation at the bar and a lovely dinner in the outdoor area where there were no insects. Compared to the number of bugs pestering us outdoors a few nights ago, it was a welcomed relief to be outdoors without the pesky springtime flying insects.

There’s Lollie in the background, as always.

It’s pleasant weather today, and the four of us are currently sitting at the table on the veranda, watching wildlife, and working on our phones and laptops. After Jeff’s passing, Connie has a lot to figure out with arranging memorial services in Minnesota and South Dakota and handling financial matters, which are daunting tasks for a grieving spouse but necessary to handle.

There are some fresh buds on other trees since the good rain last week.

As for us, we’ve stayed on top of our financial matters these past two weeks, including record keeping and setting up our regular payments in BillPay for the first of the month. I’m happy we got our taxes done through our accountant in Henderson, Nevada, and we have nothing hanging over our heads now.

A mom and a baby was included in the tower of giraffes that came to call

Tomorrow, we have to pay the final payment for the upcoming Seychelles cruise in November. We don’t have to pay other final cruise payments until next March. We’re still uncertain if South Africa will let us enter after the Seychelles cruise, but we’re keeping our fingers crossed and our thoughts positive.

Such beautiful animals.

Last night, after dinner at Giraffe, we tried to stream a show on my laptop in our bedroom. But, I was so tired from the medication I was on for the headache that I couldn’t stay awake. The drug makes me sleepy during the day, but I cannot nap, which might make it possible for me to stay awake a little longer. The literature for the medication suggests taking it an hour or two before retiring for the night to reduce daytime sleepiness, but that isn’t working for me.

We couldn’t tell what this giraffe was doing by the ant hill.

I will return to Doc Theo in about a week to discuss increasing the dose since the head pain has produced the past few days, much to my frustration. I was so hopeful it was gone. Perhaps the past week’s events have been instrumental in the headache returning, but at least the face pain is gone.

The garden was busy with zebras and giraffes.

Based on our photos, we’ve had a lot of wildlife in the garden the past several days. We’ve been especially thrilled that Connie and Lindsey have been able to see so much over the past several days. Another holiday weekend will begin when they leave, the “school hoildays,” lasting for ten days. We’ll be glad when that’s over so we can return to our everyday life of enjoying wildlife in the garden and making plans for the future.

More parents arrived with youngsters.

Ah, dear readers, that’s all I have today. I hope you are doing well and enjoying life.

Photo from one year ago today, September 29, 2021:

Little was picking up the pellets I dropped on the veranda without hesitation. For more photos, please click here.

The loss of a husband, father, brother, and dear friend…Jeff’s story…

Jeff and his UTV, utility task vehicle, at their farm in Howard, South Dakota.

Can a single blog post fully appreciate a person’s life and lifestyle? It’s not an easy task, but today, a  week since a dear friend, husband, father, and brother Jeff Blanchard passed away while staying at our holiday home in Marloth Park, we’re making every effort to fully appreciate and revere the life of this fine man, whom we’ve known for 30 years.

Jeff had a dream to visit Africa to see the wildlife he’d only imagined for a lifetime. Knowing his final days were on the imminent horizon, he knew time wasn’t on his side to postpone it another day. When they decided to come to South Africa to fulfill their dream, we offered them to stay with us with the utmost enthusiasm.

In a recent photo, son David, daughter Lindsey, wife Connie, and Jeff.

Having the opportunity to share this magical place with our dear friends and their adult daughter Lindsey was indeed a gift for us. We were anxious for their arrival on September 17, and when they arrived, our hearts filled with joy to share this special time with Jeff, Connie, and Lindsey.

It was evident this awful disease seriously struck Jeff, but he was alert and fully capable of enjoying the adventure before him. Arriving on Saturday, with holidaymakers in the park, the steady stream of wildlife was hindered, as always. But, we’d arranged for two deliveries of lucerne from Daisy’s Den for both Monday and Thursday, hoping to attract more animals for Jeff to see.

. Connie and Jeff in front of the renovated farmhouse in Howard, South Dakota.

On Tuesday, the five of us headed to self-drive in Kruger National Park, during which we sighted countless wildlife. We could see the joy on Jeff’s face each time we witnessed another species. We never saw lions, but we saw cheetahs, an exciting sighting in the cat family. We’d planned to return to Kruger several more times during their two-week stay, but Jeff passed away early Wednesday morning, September 21, before we had a chance to do so. We were all grateful he’d had a chance to see as much as he did.

As for Jeff’s life, we share the following;

Jeff spent most of his youth in Howard, South Dakota, a small farming community. He and Connie met in the town during their school years. They first interacted as cast members in a  school play, Twelve Angry Jurors, in 1969.

In 1972, Connie and Jeff married in Howard at her home church. Recently,  they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on August 12, 2022.

Connie and Jeff attended college in separate cities in South Dakota but were able to build their relationship since Jeff commuted daily. Immediately after marriage, they both began working in a group home for autistic children, where they worked for a year.

The farmhouse before the renovation.

Later, Jeff got a position on KELO TV as a writer in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where he worked until 1988. In 1992, they moved to Minnesota, where Jeff worked in data security as a technical writer until 2018 and retired at 66. Connie’s career revolved around sales, marketing, and information technology consulting. In 2010 she turned a hobby into a career and became a professional caterer and chef.

Jeff possessed a fantastic sense of humor and was quick-witted with delightful, non-offensive sarcasm. He was a man that chose family and adventure over a focus on career aspirations. As an avid outdoorsman, he loved to hunt and fish, which kept him away about three months of the year, but Connie busied herself with work, family, and occasional travel.

The farmhouse, after Jeff and Connie had it remodeled.

Jeff loved Alaska and took every opportunity to visit the US state that attracted the most passionate outdoorsmen. He relished in the Great Frontier and challenging drives on the Alcan Highway.

Connie’s family were farmers and owned an old farmhouse in Howard, and over the past ten years, Jeff enjoyed spending as much time as possible at the farm to hunt and work on maintaining the farm. No other family members lived in the house over these past years.

Jeff, with Connie in France.

Connie and Jeff had two children, David, born in 1984, and Lindsey, born in 1990, with whom he had a close and loving relationship centered on mutual interests, including sailing, water sports, horseback riding, and outdoor activities. They eventually purchased a lovely home in Deephaven, Minnesota, in 1995 on the gorgeous, highly revered Lake Minnetonka. They’ve lived in that home and treasured all the social and boating opportunities lake living in Minnesota offered, including sailing and motorboating. The views from their veranda provided a peaceful and calming environment which we enjoyed with them on many occasions.

Jeff was close to his dad, David, who lived with Connie and Jeff part-time from 1998 until 2018. (His mother, Kathleen,  passed away on February 14, 1997). He leaves behind one sister, Holly, who is in the process of moving to Florida. Jeff also enjoyed close relationships with many longtime friends, including Greg and Matt.

Jeff’s dad, David, Lindsey, and Jeff, together on a day of horseback riding.

In 2018, Jeff was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. Still, after about two years, they visited the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, where he was further diagnosed with MSA, Multiple System Atrophy, described on the Mayo Clinic’s website as follows:

“Multiple system atrophy (MSA) is a rare, degenerative neurological disorder affecting your body’s involuntary (autonomic) functions, including blood pressure and motor control.

MSA was formerly called Shy-Drager syndrome, olivopontocerebellar atrophy, or striatonigral degeneration. MSA shares many symptoms with Parkinson’s disease, such as slow movement, rigid muscles, and poor balance.

Treatment includes medications and lifestyle changes to help manage symptoms, but no cure exists. The condition progresses gradually and eventually leads to death.”

Jeff, at his 70th birthday party on July 11, 2022.

And now, the grief is palpable as Connie and Lindsey spend their remaining days with us in Marloth Park, South Africa, where the wild animals still come to visit, reminding all of us of the reasons Jeff wanted to visit Africa and how much he may have missed after he left this world only a week ago today.

We’ll send Connie and Lindsey back home to the US with compassion and love in our hearts and this special memory ever-present in our minds. May they find comfort in giving this precious gift to the man they so dearly loved and cared for…the gift of the fulfillment of a dream…one that we call “experiencing Heaven on earth” in this magical place.

Photo from one year ago today, September 28, 2021:

This female kudu was somewhat dazed, with two oxpeckers working on her ticks, fleas, other insects, and hide-related conditions.  For more photos, please click here.

The viewing is completed…Now, we wait for the ashes…

Our friend Connie, wife of Jeff, has been able to enjoy time here in Marloth Park amid all the sorrow of losing her beloved husband.

What a busy morning! At 6:00 am, Tom bolted out of bed to get ready to drive Connie back to Tonga for the final viewing. The mortician will drive Jeff’s remains to Nelspruit, and the ashes will be delivered to us tomorrow, Wednesday. This will be an emotional event.

Connie has a lot of paperwork to complete before they depart for the US this Friday, only three days from today. It’s hard to imagine that they will be gone. We’ve become closer than ever under these sorrowful circumstances. Once they depart,  we’ll strive to return our lives to a familiar pace.

Of course, having almost completely recovered from the headache and facial pain, I am in a much better state of mind. It’s not as if I was down in the dumps during those painful months, but it undoubtedly impacted my quality of life. We went out for dinner; we socialized; we visited Kruger National Park, and we spent countless days and nights enjoying the visiting wildlife.

But, now, everything has changed, and I am glad I started to improve, after three weeks on the meds, to be present for our arriving guests ten days ago and the tragic loss that transpired last Wednesday, stretching well into the remaining time that Connie and Lindsey are spending here with us.

We all agreed to dine out the next three nights with load shedding continuing and high temperatures. We’ll spend their last night in the bush on Thursday at Jabula. They both love the food and atmosphere at the Cheers-like bar and wanted to spend one more evening there. Tom and I will still spend our usual Friday night at Jabula after Connie and Lindsey have left for the US.

Lindsey, Jeff and Connie’s daughter, has been quite a trooper after losing her beloved Dad. Photos were taken at Jabula last Friday night.

Today, we’re heading to Ngwenya Lodge for sundowners at sunset and later dining indoors away from the flying insects we encountered last night. Last night, we had no choice but to come inside the house to eat at the dining room table when insects beyond any past experiences bombarded us. TIA…This is Africa…this is what happens here in the spring and the heat.

My desire to cook has waned considerably in the past few days. The number of flies that mysteriously appear in the kitchen while preparing a meal is in the dozens, longing to land on any meat they can. Yuck. Flies annoy me more than most other insects.

I suppose we will most likely dine out two or three times a week over the upcoming hot summer months to make life easier. We’ll cook on the cooler days, but on the 42C, 104F days, we will go out to dinner. I have no desire to prepare meals and leave Tom in the kitchen in the dark at night, during load shedding, trying to do the dishes using a battery-powered lantern. The warmer the temperatures, the more flies, join me in the kitchen.

Right now, Connie and Lindsey are visiting the little shops here in Marloth Park. Tom is on the veranda watching football on his laptop via NFL Game Pass. As soon as I am done here today, I may take a little break and lounge in the bedroom with the big fan running off of  the inverter.

The house is clean, animals have returned to the garden after the holiday weekend, and we’re bracing ourselves for the influx of tourists who will be flooding Marloth Park, starting this weekend and continuing for ten days, due to the “school holiday,” which brings people to Marloth Park from all over the country and some from other countries.  We’ll see less wildlife and hear more cars passing at the house and when out and about.

Thank you to many of our readers who’ve written to express their condolences. If we missed responding to you, please bear with us. We’ve had more responses than we could count.

Have a great day and evening!

Photo from one year ago today, September 27, 2021:

Peter, Paul, and Mary (she’s in the center) couldn’t have posed better for this shot. For more photos, please click here.

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.