Not to party…cold, rainy…Had our fun last night!…

Zebras love to cuddle.

Last night could just as well have been New Year’s Eve. The bar was packed shortly after we arrived, mostly with people we know, making it a true “Cheers Bar” experience. The loud and lively conversations, many at one time, wafted through the air while Dawn, David, and the staff ran their butts off, serving the never-ending stream of drinkers and diners.

Our dinner was excellent as usual while we dined at the bar along with all the other guests who occupied the barstools. It couldn’t have been more fun. We arrived as always at 5:00 pm, 1700 hrs., and were out the door at around 8:30, 2030 hrs. Once back at the house, after load shedding ended, we hunkered down in the bedroom and watched another episode of Tulsa King, another good Taylor Sheridan (Yellowstone) series starring Sylvester Stallone. It’s entertaining and tongue-in-cheek, and he’s playing the role quite well.

Earl decided to check out the pellet situation.

We didn’t doze off until around midnight, but both slept well. When we awoke this morning, we decided not to attend tonight’s New Year’s Eve party. It’s raining now and very cool, and tonight the dress is all white clothes. All of our white clothes were in our lost bags. We’re quite content staying home.

This morning, I baked the smaller of the two hams and took out a package of slider-sized buns for Tom. I’ll use my low-carb bread, and we’ll both have ham and cheese sliders, salad, with rice for Tom. That will be a perfect New Year’s Eve dinner for the two of us. With all the ham and buns left, we may be eating this same meal for a few nights, which is OK with us.

They were checking out the side garden for any vegetation they may like.

I had sliced my keto bread very thin, so I could have two little sandwiches if I’d like. When making keto bread, the loaves are small, with slices about half the size of a regular piece of bread. Tom will have a few of his leftover chocolate cookies for dessert, and I won’t eat a thing. I’ve made a point of avoiding snacks, as mentioned, although many nights, it’s tempting, especially when I still feel a little hungry after dinner. But, if I wait about a half hour, I get over it.

Also, this morning we ran out to the liquor store to buy a few items in case Dawn and Leon decide to come tomorrow. We left the plans “loose” just in case they are exhausted after New Year’s Eve at the restaurant and need a quiet day. We’re OK with last-minute plans now that we have everything we’d need for a nice meal and drinks they like.

Zebras and a few impalas have been visiting regularly.

Usually, guests bring their own “drinkables” when visiting, but in this case, we wanted it to be ultra-easy for them to jump in their car and come here. We’ll see how it rolls out by tomorrow morning sometime.

Today, I did a few loads of laundry, and once I’m done with today’s post, I’ll get to work on logging the receipts from purchases in the last 15 days, which I’ve failed to do. I already paid the bills online for next month, relieved that this task is blissfully out of the way.

For a few minutes, I thought this might be Little. But no such luck. After comparing this photo to an old photo of Little, we decided it wasn’t him. That would have been a nice surprise!

It’s been a busy day in the bush so far. Our garden has been packed with kudus, zebras, duikers, warthogs, and even wildebeest Earl, whom we haven’t seen lately, stopped by for a quick hello and taste of pellets. We took as many photos as possible, hoping to have enough for the next few days.

I have to run, folks, to complete other tasks on today’s agenda. I often wonder how I managed to get everything done in my old life when I worked. It seems I have less free time now than I did back then. I’ve heard other retirees say the same thing. Go figure.

Happy New Year.

Photo from one year ago today, December 31, 2021:

I stepped out the door to the veranda to discover this scene, a highly venomous boomslang with a frog in its mouth. It was already too preoccupied to bite us! Perhaps the frog in its mouth was a blessing. See our post here. For the last New Year’s Eve post, please click here.

On the fence…Party or not to party?…

Big Daddy loves cabbage, along with all the other antelopes.

It’s hard to believe the Christmas season is almost over. I’m still in the mood for baking, so this morning, during load shedding, I whipped together a double batch of lemon poppyseed muffins which have been baking since the power came back on a while ago. With muffin papers skimpy here and difficult to remove from the muffins, I made two loaf pans of lemon poppy seed bread which will turn out fine at a lower temperature and longer cooking period than the muffins would have.

Once the loaves are done and cooled, I’ll slice them into individual servings and freeze them for Tom. Each day he’ll take out a pack of two slices with his coffee, a nice treat to start the New Year. I didn’t bake a keto treat for myself since I was watching my weight. My one daily treat is the two thin slices of keto macadamia nut bread I’ve had with either egg or avocado for breakfast.

An unfamiliar female bushbuck and her tiny calf stopped by today.

When trying to lose weight on low carb, calorie intake does matter, and I try to keep my daily intake at about 1400 calories and 20 grams of carbs or less. The weight loss is slow at these macros, but I am not about to starve myself, leaving me hungry and thinking about food all the time.

I can stay satisfied with these numbers and never think about eating anything other than my two daily meals, breakfast and dinner. I’ve cut out all snacks and only use a maximum of 200 calories and six grams of carbs if I want to have wine at sundowner time. There are several low-carb, low-sugar, and low-calorie wine options here in South Africa. I couldn’t find any such wine while in the US, so I didn’t drink anything unless we went to dinner, where I’d have a glass of pinot grigio or some other low-sugar wine.

Several male impalas have been hanging around in today’s rain.

Also, this morning, before starting today’s post, I worked on receipts for the claim for the lost luggage for at least an hour. I put a good size dent in it by simply making PDF documents of items we purchased in 2022 in those bags. I finished all of 2022, and I’ll start working in 2021.

Tomorrow,  New Year’s Eve day, we’ll decide if we’re going to the New Year’s Eve party at the bush home of Flo and JJ’s friends, whom we don’t know. At this point, we’ll only know Flo and JJ and their grown kids at the party. It won’t be the first time here in the bush; we’ve attended a party where we didn’t know the hosts.

We purchased two good-sized gammon roasts (ham), which we’ll cook in the morning if we decide to go. Once done, we’ll trim and slice the meat and make 48 ham and cheese sliders to bring to the party. It’s time-consuming to make these but certainly easy and uncomplicated to prepare.

Mom jumped the fence, but the baby squeezed through the wooden posts to join her.

Had we planned earlier, we could have made a reservation for Jabula’s New Year’s Eve party, but at this point, they are already fully booked. Plus, South Africans are huge sports fans, and tomorrow night there’s a game on TV, and patrons of Jabula will be packed into the bar watching the game on the two screens from 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm, 1900 hrs to 2130 hrs. This environment doesn’t particularly appeal to us, especially since we aren’t avid fans of their sports.

There’s a Minnesota Vikings game on Sunday night, New Year’s Day, which Tom won’t watch until the following morning due to the time difference. The Vikings are doing pretty well, so watching will be fun. We have no plans for New Year’s Day. We’ll stay in, maybe chat with family and friends and make a nice dinner for the two of us. Of course, I can always work on finding more receipts for the insurance claim.

That’s it for today, folks! Have a great day and evening, whatever you may do!

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, December 30, 3021:

This female warthog appears to have been injured by either a snare or a fence. For more photos, please click here.

Yes, there’s a post today…Got frustrated and gave up doing paperwork today…

Handsome Big Daddy.

When I started working on the claim forms for our lost luggage, the process became so impossible, I couldn’t bring myself to do the post on top of that fiasco. Yesterday, I called the credit card company’s insurance provider and was told we wouldn’t need receipts for each of the 80-plus items we listed on the claim form.

The rep clearly stated an estimated date of purchase and value would be all that was necessary. When I had to re-enter the items due to WiFi issues, I called the company with a few questions about how to save what I’d entered, which wasn’t clear on the online document. I was told the information I’d been given yesterday was incorrect.

We would have to produce a receipt for each item included in the claim…80 receipts…oh good grief! I sat at the dining room table with the little portable fan on but sweating in the heat and outrageously high humidity. At one point, I threw my hands in the air and told Tom, “I can’t do this awful task!” But the possibility of getting back several thousand dollars nagged at me. I couldn’t give up.

Nor could I have Tom do all the research to find the receipts. He’s not adept at turning receipts into PDF documents or saving files. Plus, many items listed on the credit card statements don’t specify the item purchased, which would not satisfy the insurance company’s requirements. Yuck! We’ve decided I can ask Tom to search for the tricky ones by going through all seven of our credit cards. If he does that, it will help me considerably.

After I settled down, I decided I could do this task with more ease and less stress if I could do it in air-conditioned comfort. Since I had open-heart surgery almost four years ago, I get overheated easily. I got hold of Louise and asked her if I could work in her office after the holiday crowd thins out, we decided on January 4 at 10 am. It’s quiet, calm, and comfortable. We have until February 21 to get the forms completed with the receipts, which should be plenty of time.

Giraffe visitor during sundowner time.

In the interim, I promised myself I would find five receipts daily before doing the post each day. In the six days until January 4, I can find and save 30 receipts, leaving about 50 to tackle, beginning on January 4. No doubt, I won’t be able to complete this task in one day. It may take several more days.

Also, in the interim, at the beginning of January, we’ll hear back from the lawyers about completing the forms for our visa extensions. Oh, dear. There will be plenty to keep us busy.

In the past few days, we’ve only had a few animals visit our garden: bushbucks, kudus, and warthogs. We have hardly taken any photos since they’d be repetitious. Hopefully, within a week, the crowds will thin out, and the wildlife will visit again. We haven’t seen Norman and his family in 48 hours.

Tom returned from the local salon after getting a haircut and beard trimming which came out great. He said he’d never seen the parking lot so packed at the Bush Centre. He could hardly find a place to park. We’ve never seen so many people here in past holiday seasons.

Surely, relief from worrying about the pandemic has brought many South Africans living in Joburg, Pretoria, and Cape Town to Marloth Park for some peace, quiet, and wildlife watching. I hope they aren’t disappointed when they aren’t seeing many animals in the gardens of the holiday rentals.

Sadly, many human visitors are speeding on dirt roads, with windows open and loud thumping from their vehicle’s stereo system. We hear this every evening when we’re on the veranda. It’s pretty annoying for us, let alone the animals who aren’t used to such sounds.

That’s it for today, folks. We’ll be back again tomorrow. Now, I must find a few photos to add here today.

Be well.

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

Barbara of Lori and Barbara (Shark Tank) had what we called “Barbara’s Butt Bush Bouquet.” It lasted for quite a while. For more, please click here.

Exciting opportunity presented to us from the US…

A handsome zebra stopped by himself.

Last night, we received an email from a Minnesota Live Eyewitness News KSTP-TV news show producer who asked if we’d be interested in participating in an interview via a Zoom meeting sometime in January. We replied that we’d be happy to do so but would have to wait until after January 16 due to the high volume of tourists in Marloth Park until the end of the school holidays.

She’d heard about us from listening to Garage Logic and had heard the podcast when we were guests on a May 2022 podcast while we were in Minnesota. Although testing negative, we were still suffering from Omicron symptoms but decided not to miss the opportunity to be on the show. We had a fantastic time. If you missed the show, please click here.

Now, with an opportunity to be on TV to promote our site and share our story, we look forward to this interview. We will let you know when we’ll post the video from the interview, which will be sometime at the end of January when we’ll have a better WiFi signal. Please keep an eye out for this.

A short time later, three other zebras joined in.

This morning, I prepped food for dinner and made a loaf of keto macadamia nut bread that I have each morning topped with avocado and egg. I always make a double batch of the recipe resulting in enough bread to last for a few weeks. This breakfast holds me until dinner.

Lately, I have been making eggs for Tom. I am a good cook but have the worst time getting his over-easy eggs cooked perfectly. Today, I made scrambled eggs that always turn out to his liking, to which I add some imported cheese and several slices of bacon which I cook in the microwave rather than splatter all over the stovetop.

We only have tonight and tomorrow night’s dinner to cook until it’s time for Friday night’s dinner again at Jabula, and then it will be New Year’s Eve when we’re going to a party at a bush house. We have no plans for New Year’s Day, but that day is less important to us, and we usually stay in and cook a nice dinner.

Soon, Tom will drop me off at Imbewe Spa for a  pedicure. Most often, my dear friend Dawn from Jabula has a pedicure with me. But today is assistant David’s birthday, and he’s off for two days, so she’ll have to be at the restaurant for lunch service with their resort packed with guests and other tourists who may stop by for food and drinks. It’s a busy place.

Finally, yesterday, I received a call back from the credit card insurance office after leaving messages for days. They gave me another phone number to call, which I will do today after 4:00 pm, 1600 hrs., due to the time difference. Hopefully, I will finally get adequate instructions on how to file the claim for our missing bags. I hope we won’t have to produce receipts for each item. Otherwise, as mentioned, this process could take weeks to complete.

Their heads were down, eating pellets.

Once I return from the pedicure appointment, I will finish this post and get it uploaded. From there, the remainder of my day is easy. Today’s high will only be 95F, 35C, with humidity at 35% and the dew point at 63, a much more bearable day. Sitting outdoors is much more comfortable now than in the past several days.

Still, we see fewer animals in the garden than usual with so many holidaymakers here for a few more weeks. We can’t wait until they leave and our favorite animals return to see us. Recently, we only saw Norman and his family every other day, sometimes three or four times, but not the usual eight to 12 times before the holiday started. I make Norman’s Lunch daily but often give it to the few bushbucks visiting or the kudus.

Lollie has had a medical problem since the birth of her three piglets. It appears that her intestines, in part, are hanging out of her rear end. It’s an awful sight that breaks our hearts. But with so many pigs in the park, the rangers and vets don’t treat the warthogs, which are sturdy and generally heal quickly. But we can’t see how this issue, worsening each day, can resolve on its own. Oh, we hope somehow it resolves. Her piglets are too young to survive on their own. She’s such a good mom.

Be well.

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

Due to WiFi issues in the park right now, we cannot post the year ago photo.

Busy ambitious morning…

Nina and Norman are reunited. with their baby but she/he has yet to jump the little fence. This is a bushbuck that hangs out with Nina.

This morning, after breakfast of eggs and bacon, we headed to Komatipoort for groceries, wine, toiletries, over-the-counter products, and a few birthday cards for friends. The strip mall parking lot was packed, let alone the stores. We hadn’t shopped in a few weeks and needed quite a few items.

When we arrived at the pharmacy, generally our first stop, they were closed for another 40 minutes. We decided to do the other shopping and return. When we were done grocery shopping, amid the crowds at Spar Market, I walked down the outdoor mall to the pharmacy. I could barely open the door to enter. It was unbelievable.

We try not to purchase much frozen or perishable food but based on it requiring almost one hour of round-trip driving time to go to Komatipoort; we don’t like to go any more often than we have to. We can always make short trips to the local Marloth Park shops only five minutes from here, but they don’t always have the ingredients we use.

The baby is cute, but we still can’t determine the gender of the one-month old.

Somehow I managed to find the items I needed at the pharmacy with the help of a few helpful staff members and was out the door in about 20 minutes. Back at the house in the heat and high humidity, we sweated profusely while we put everything away. It’s a good thing we have the chest freezer and the outdoor refrigerator since the kitchen fridge doesn’t have much space, nor does the upper single-door freezer, which is mainly filled with ice cube trays and large zip-lock bags of ice.

Tom loved the chocolate cookies I made for him for Christmas, and I could tell he wanted more. Last week, I made a double batch which only resulted in 21 cookies, and we gave six of them to Louise and Danie, who also loved them. So I decided to make another double batch today and see if I can end up with 24 cookies, making them a little smaller. I never ate one of the cookies or tasted the dough. But I do remember them from years back and how good they are.

All the cooking I will do today is making the salad which is done, and baking the cookies in a few hours. The dough needs to chill in the refrigerator and will be ready around 4:00 pm, 1600 hrs., which is late to start baking, but the oven is big enough that I can bake them all at once.

This morning, the mongooses were here as soon as I went outdoors. Tom was in the bedroom while I chopped the paloney for them while in the kitchen. Suddenly, I noticed ten of them had followed me into the house. It didn’t take much to scoot them outside since I had the plate of paloney in my hands. Funny!

It feels good to have everything put away. The only project I have to complete this week is getting a call back from the insurance company to file the claim for our missing bags and make the food we’re bringing to Flo and JJ’s New Year’s Eve party. There’s enough pizza and uncooked, defrosted chicken breasts to get us to Friday when we’ll head to Jabula for dinner. The party on Saturday night is at a yet-to-be-determined location, but I’m sure we’ll hear soon.

I’ve managed to stay on track with my diet through the holidays and haven’t gained anything back from what I’ve lost so far. As mentioned in an earlier post, I made a keto cheese pie but only had a small piece each evening after dinner, which would last a few more days. Yes, we do indulge a little here and there during the holidays, but overall, we indulge very little. Rolling into the New Year with my diet will be easy, with no weight gain from the holidays. The same goes for Tom, who hasn’t gained weight, even eating the cookies.

A bushbuck. a kudu, and a duiker were all looking for pellets.

We just moved into the bedroom for some rest and some fan time. Some afternoons, around 2:00 pm, 1400 hrs., we try to nap for 20 minutes. I am only fortunate enough to fall asleep one out of 20 times, but Tom seems to do much better, never sleeping for more than 15 or 20 minutes. This is refreshing, especially on a scorching and humid day when we can cool off a little in the bedroom with the powerful fan sweeping over us.

As for my headache and facial pain, they are mostly gone. It only seems to bother me occasionally, and I can do nothing about it when it returns. Paracetamol/Tylenol doesn’t help, so I tough it out and go about my day. I have continued using the morning and evening Salex Nasal Rinse and four doses a day of Phytomer, all purchased over the counter. This combination has seemed to be the most helpful in keeping these horrible post-Omicron sinus issues at bay, 90% of the time.

That’s it for today, folks. Have a pleasant day.

Be well.

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

On a drive in Marloth Park, we encountered this giraffe munching on a tree. For more photos, please click here.

A pleasant Christmas Day in the bush…We couldn’t ask for more…

Big Daddy visited a few mornings ago while Lollie and the piglets were also here.

Note: Due to the extensive use of WiFi in the bush today, resulting in slow service, there are some editing issues in today’s post. Sorry for the inconvenience.

We had an excellent and busy day. We made keto pizza, salad, and a keto cheese pie with an almond flour crust, keeping us busy in the kitchen all morning. With temps rising to over 103F and 39C with high humidity, I had to take a few breaks to sit in front of the fan in the bedroom. It was a scorcher.

Later in the afternoon, when our guests arrived, it had cooled down considerably after strong winds, and a cloud cover took over. What a relief it was to be able to have sundowners and dinner on the veranda! Surprisingly, there weren’t many insects bothering us while we dined, but after everyone left, they seemed to pick up, and we headed indoors and closed the doors to the veranda.

Each night when we are ready for dinner Tom sprays the bedroom. Tom had no choice but to spray the dining room, lounge room, and kitchen with Doom when we headed to bed. We try to stay out of any rooms that have been sprayed to avoid breathing in the toxic chemicals.

Since we don’t have nor want mosquito netting on the bed, this seems to prevent me from getting bit during the night. Again, we don’t enter the bedroom for a few hours after he’s sprayed. Last night, while seated outdoors, Tom was wearing his only pair of shorts when all others were lost in the missing luggage; he ended up getting bit by mosquitoes at least a dozen times.

Lollie and her three piglets stopped by, as seen on the trail cam.

Lately, since it got hot, I have been wearing jeans and long sleeve tee shirts day and night. I know this makes me hotter, but it prevents me from getting bit day and night. Tom is no longer itching, but when I’m bit, the itching lasts for weeks. I’d rather be hot than itchy for weeks from countless mosquito bites.

I wear repellent around the clock but still get bit if my skin is exposed. Not only is there the risk of itching, but also we must avoid getting malaria which is common in this area.

In any case, we had a delightful Christmas dinner, although the food wasn’t traditional, and by 9:00 pm, 2100 hrs., we were in our room watching a series on my laptop. The dishes were washed, and everything was put away. We were surprised we could get a sufficient signal to stream a few shows before hunkering for the night.

Tom had an excellent 70th birthday, and we had a great Christmas. We were able to touch base with all of our kids to wish them Merry Christmas, and last night I even had a chance to talk to dear friends Kathy and Don, who aren’t in the bush now but hopefully will be someday soon when Don’s health improves. They invited us to Christmas Eve dinner in 2013, when they’d never met us, nine years ago this year. We miss them terribly.

Norman stopped by early this morning before we were outside.

We have great leftovers for tonight, so all I did this morning was make a salad. I did a load of laundry hanging outside on a cloudy day to dry. It’s much cooler today but still very humid, and the clothes won’t dry until tomorrow.

It was nice to see Norman and Nina a few times this morning. We tossed them “Norman’s Lunch,” and they ate everything except the grape tomatoes. A little while later, duiker Derek stopped by, and he loved the leftover tomatoes. It’s funny how each animal has specific taste buds, just like humans. They aren’t so different from us after all.

We didn’t see Norman and Nina’s baby this morning, and we hope she was safely tucked away somewhere and isn’t hurt or injured. We’ll be keeping a watchful eye for her/him.

Have a pleasant day after Christmas, and be well always…

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

The beautiful Christmas dinner table at Sindee and Bruce’s lovely home in the bush. Dawn took a photo of Sindee and the serving table, which was later filled with great food. Sadly, Bruce has since passed away. For more, please click here:

Merry Christmas, everyone!…Have a beautiful day with friends and loved ones..Serendipity at Jabula…

On our way to Jabula last night for our Christmas Eve dinner, we stopped unannounced to see Louise and Danie. They were sitting on the veranda having sundowners and watching the hysterical behavior of a male hornbill flying around looking for grasshoppers to bring back to his mate and chicks living in a bushbaby house.

The poor male was skinny, from constantly flying while foraging for his mate’s food. Danie grated some cheddar cheese and placed it on the table near where we sat with our sundowners in hand, enjoying the companionship and the gorgeous early evening. The male hornbill came up next to me, picked up a piece of cheese, and headed back to the nest to give it to his partner. She ate several pieces he offered her.

But after her accepting about three pieces of cheese, she tossed the fourth piece out the hole of the little house, indicating she’d had enough cheese and wanted more grasshoppers. He got the message and flew off, returning less than a minute later with a grasshopper in his beak. He offered it to her, and she quickly grabbed it to feed herself and her since-hatched chicks.

This little interaction in nature particularly warmed our hearts. reminding us why we are here and the joys this magical place has to offer. As we sat with our friends, reveling in the lively conversation and sharing the awe over the hornbill activity, we couldn’t stop smiling, realizing how fortunate we are to spend Christmas in this magical place. After a while, we all hugged goodbye with the warmest Christmas greetings and made our way to Jabula.

No, there is no snow. No, the bush houses aren’t decorated with a vast array of colorful blinking lights. No, we won’t return to our house after the end of our evening at Jabula, to a lit Christmas tree adorned with beautifully wrapped gifts, too many to count. This is Christmas in the bush, and this is what nature provides to remind us of the blessings God (or whatever higher power you may believe or not) gave us to cherish and revere at this time of the year and always.

The above graphic bespeaks what it means to be here during the holiday season and how it impacts us. Thanks to Louise for posting and sharing this on her Facebook page yesterday, inspiring us to share it today.

When we arrived, the bar was packed with locals, most of whom we knew or had met. Our usual seats were taken, so we parked ourselves down close to the air-con unit and ordered our drinks. I had brought along a bottle of my 5% alcohol white wine, and Tom ordered a Lion beer, his favorite.

We were content and felt at ease being there on Christmas Eve. Music was playing in the lively bar, and the conversation flowed, as always. Darkness fell, and finally, we ordered our dinners. Tom ordered chicken schnitzel, chips, and creamed spinach, while I ordered grilled chicken breast with steamed vegetables, which are frequent favorites.

While we chatted at the bar, Dawn beckoned us to follow her to a distant serving area where other patrons were dining. Apparently, they “knew” us. As it turned out, the two men David and Dawn introduced us to at the table had been following us on YouTube for years. After watching our many videos, they decided to come to Marloth Park and build a house here.

How ironic!! How amazing it feels for us to inspire others to come here and build a life in this paradise-like environment! It was serendipitous for them to be at Jabula when we were!

These are all the Christmas gifts we could possibly want; nature, wildlife, wonderful friends, the love of our family, and course, each other. We are grateful this holiday season and always…

Merry Christmas…

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

Broken Horn stopped by this morning to wish us Merry Christmas. We tossed him some pellets, and he was happy! For more photos, please click here.

Merry Christmas Eve…Last night, we never took a single photo during a fabulous evening in the bush….

After spending an hour looking for a suitable Christmas Eve graphic, I gave up. I decided to post this favorite lion photo we took in 2013 in the Maasai Mara, Kenya, truly indicative of the life we live now with lions in Marloth Park and at our doorstep, Kruger National Park. For that post, please click here.

It’s gotten to a point where one can no longer easily find appropriate graphics without paying or signing up for some arbitrary “free trial.” After trying to find a Christmas world graphic suitable for our post, I gave up after a valiant effort, and I decided to post our photo to avoid paying royalties, choosing the above lion shot we’ve shared many times in the past. Sorry for the repetition.

It’s nearly impossible not to be repetitive when we’ve been posting daily for over ten years. This is our 11th Christmas since we left the US in 2012, the 4th Christmas we’ve spent in Marloth Park. Last night, at Jabula, celebrating Tom’s 70th birthday, amid endless toasts and rounds of merriment at the packed bar with every seat taken, with dear friends Louise and Danie at our side with Dawn and Leon joining it, it couldn’t have been more fun.

Being so close to Christmas, Tom’s birthday was somewhat of an inconvenience in our old lives. We’d often make elaborate plans to acknowledge his birthday, but with Christmas Eve the next day, we were always on a mad dash to roll into the holiday from the birthday celebrations.

Oddly, in our old neighborhood, every other house of five on the peninsula celebrated its birthday on the exact same date, December 23. It was our dear friend Chip, the furthest away, Doug in the middle, and Tom. How odd was that? We’d often celebrate together when we could. We are still in touch with our old neighbors, missing the merriment and celebrations over the Christmas season and also throughout the year.

We lost dear Chip a few months before we left in 2012 to begin our travels, and I had the honor of speaking at his memorial service only months before we were ready to depart. It was a sorrowful time. And now, looking back over the Christmases, the fun with our kids, grandkids, friends, and neighbors, it was an extraordinary time.

But, no, we have no regrets and don’t think of those times with sadness and sorrow. Instead, like last night, celebrating Tom’s 70th birthday, we were reminded of how fortunate we were then and…how fortunate we are now. Different? Yes. But, wonderful nonetheless.

While we sat at the bar, all of us talking at once and yet hearing every word spoken, I turned to Louise at my left and said, “There is nowhere in the world where we’d have made so many friends and enjoyed such camaraderie and lively conversation at a bar.” Although she and Danie are native South Africans, they are well aware of the magic of all these friendships and their special meanings.

Then, adding the cozy element of being in Marloth Park, a true Paradise on earth, and the commonality we all share with our love of nature and wildlife, it’s a combination unlike any to be found anywhere in the world.

No, we don’t have a Christmas tree or other decorations or the countless gifts under the tree. No, we don’t send out Christmas cards or even Christmas letters. After all, our daily posts contain everything we could possibly have to say about our lives. We leave no stone unturned. You, our treasured readers, know everything about us, almost down to our shoe sizes!

People often ask how we feel about being vulnerable and open about our flaws, foibles, and never-ending errors and mishaps. Yes, that includes some whining and complaining, some health issues, and some unavoidable repetition in both words and photos. What would be the point of our posts being fictional instead of the often harsh reality? We are fine with bearing our true feeling, thoughts and dreams.

As we wrap up today’s post, we want to wish every one of our friends/readers and their families, who celebrate Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanza, and many more (found on this site) a meaningful and memorable holiday season.

Be well.

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

Christmas graphic we posted last year. For the story, please click here.

Happy 70th birthday to my husband, lover, best friend and travel companion!!!…

We were awaiting the flight at the Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger airport on November 24, 2022.

Happy 70th birthday to my dear husband. It’s hard to believe he is 70 years old with his lighthearted and adventurous spirit. His boundless energy, good health (he takes no medication), physical strength (he hauls the heavy bags), sense of humor, intellect, playful demeanor, and endless devotion to seeing to my every need are youthful and surprising.

His strong convictions, backed by history, geography, and science, lead to an endless stream of lively conversation, constantly keeping me entertained, informed, and on my toes. Without his input, I wouldn’t have much of a clue as to what’s happening in the world, instead focusing on my own small sphere of influence.

Regardless of circumstances, he always injects humorous morsels to lighten the mood. Even with the most recent events regarding our dashed trip to Seychelles and all the money we lost, he was able to maintain an upbeat attitude, constantly influencing me to follow suit.

It’s not beyond me to whinge and complain under dire situations. Still, his bursts of frustration are short-lived, which I call “overly grumpy,” and are instantaneously followed by good humor and positivity. Without this, I don’t know if I could have traveled the world for over ten years and still looked at continuing on with any degree of enthusiasm.

This photo of Tom was taken at Amazing Kruger View Restaurant in 2018.

He makes a great case to which I immediately concur, leaving me reeling with enthusiasm and optimism once again. What a cheerleader he is for this life we lead! But his logical and uplifting spirit always presents a reasonable approach to the many benefits of continuing to live this extraordinary life.

And then there’s the romance part, which he flatly denies he possesses to any degree. His approach is genuine and varied, always keeping me intrigued and fascinated. But it’s romantic to me to have the man I love lavish me with compliments and praise me for who I am and what I do. This happens daily, and I never take it, or him, for granted.

Of course, his demeanor inspires me to be the best I can be. Although teasingly, he often refers to me as “bossy” for my assertiveness, I never take offense, while readily grasping the significance of what such a playfully spoken phrase may imply. I consider if I need to tone down my opinions. Often, I do.

I am as attracted to him today at 70 as I was when I met him when he was 38. I was 43. As a matter of fact, I am more attracted to him now, knowing full well the depth of the person he is after over 31 years of experience together. There is never a day that passes that I don’t appreciate him, our relationship, and our extraordinary lives.

I didn’t bake him a cake with ingredients for his favorite cakes this year, hard-to-find here. But yesterday, I made him a double batch of his favorite chocolate cookies. I’ll happily make them for him again once we shop in Komatipoort and I replenish the ingredients. He is savoring each cookie as if it was a golden jewel. Below is a photo of the cookies.

I placed the chocolate cookies on a plate to take the photo, but there’s no way we could leave cookies out on a plate in this climate with many insects. He loves these., crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside.

Tonight, we’ll head to Jabula for our usual Friday night, this time dining at a table with Louise and Danie joining us to celebrate Tom’s birthday. We’ll arrive at 5:00 pm, 1700 hrs., and we will socialize at the bar until they arrive. With the Marloth Park Info Centre so busy right now, which they own, they may not be able to arrive until an hour or two later. We’ll be well-entertained until they do.

Happy birthday, my love, and a happy day to all!

Happy birthday, Lover! That’s my guy, always with a heartwarming grin, even in the pelting rain. Gosh, we love this life! I took this photo in the rain when we found an overhang on the sidewalk on George St. in Sydney in January 2016.

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

Don’t laugh! It wasn’t perfect! When I frosted the first bottom layer of Tom’s favorite type of cake, German Chocolate, it appeared I didn’t have enough frosting for all three layers. So I went a little light on the first one, resulting in none showing in this photo. As it turned out, I had enough frosting and put too much on the top layer. As it turned out, since I could not get all the ingredients needed to make this cake, it wasn’t as good as in our old lives. But he ate it anyway. For more photos, please click here.

Filing paperwork and then more paperwork…We’ll see how it goes…

Big Daddy was wondering when I’d come out of the kitchen to tend to him.

We have resigned ourselves to the fact that we will never get our bags back. It’s a harsh reality when, for a change, I had a lot of favorite items in that oversized duffle bag. Yesterday late afternoon, we each made a list of everything we could recall in the bags to complete the forms for Ethiopian Air, our first of two such tasks.

We spent no less than two hours mulling over what we’d packed and determining “estimated values” for each item. Of course, we grouped the items, such as “pants,” dress (dressy) shirts,” swimwear,” etc., making the task a little less time-consuming than piece by piece.

We completed a separate list for each of us. Now, as I write here today, Tom is filling out the forms for both of us by hand, line by line, referencing all the documentation we’ve saved in an envelope.

Norman has been busy visiting the holidaymakers. He has been here considerably fewer times per day in the past week. I had to give “Norman’s Lunch” to bushbucks Tulip and Lilac when I feared the vegetables would spoil.

Yesterday morning, I was on hold with the insurance company for the claim we’ve yet to file through our Venture X credit card, where we originally booked the flights using accumulated rewards points from prior use of the card. As it turns out, the insurance for lost bags provided by credit cards is often handled by a separate insurance company, contracted with the credit card companies.

The insurance company in this case is also impossible to reach, whereby the credit card company itself is easy to reach. There is nothing the credit card company can do to expedite this process. Once we inform them of the loss and receive a reference number, it’s out of their hands.

Surely, during the holiday season with millions of travelers, there are more missing bags now than ever. Plus, many companies laid off staff during the pandemic and most likely haven’t rehired sufficient staff to handle this season’s workload. We’re anticipating this could take months to resolve.

Big Daddy pleaded with Tom for some pellets. He complied.

I was sent a link days ago when I reached someone, but now it’s not working, and I tried re-using the previously sent link to start the process over again. Frustrating, to say the least. Over the past few weeks, we’ve had some WiFi issues since the holidaymakers started arriving for the holidays.

Today, we completed the forms required by Ethiopian Air to file a claim but their form has no email address to send the completed form.

Last night for the first time in about ten days we could stream an episode of Yellowstone on my laptop. Every other night, the signal would be lost every 15 seconds, preventing us from watching anything, making the evenings long and tedious since neither of us reads books anymore, and often we’re in the dark due to load shedding.

Lollie’s piglets are growing fast.

Of course, I’ve been in frequent contact with the WiFi provider and thanked them this morning for whatever they’ve done to fix the issue. Although we have many plans over the holidays, except for Christmas Day when we’ll be on our own, it is still relaxing to watch a movie or TV series when we wander off to bed. Last night, after watching the one episode of Yellowstone, we started watching the Netflix series on Harry and Meghan and will continue until we’ve seen all the episodes. Interesting.

This morning, I contacted the same law firm we’ve used on two occasions in the past in Cape Town, requesting they start the process for us to file an extension for our upcoming March 9, 2023 visa expiration. We won’t want to fly anywhere right now after all the money we’ve recently lost with the Seychelle fiasco. I’ve already sent them the requested preliminary documents, but many more will follow in the coming weeks. Plus, doing so, will require two trips to the immigration office in Nelspruit over the next few months to get this process completed.

Broken Horn stops by, now and then.

Also, I am making some Christmas/birthday cookies for Tom this morning. There were only a few options with the ingredients we had on hand. However, when he requested his favorite chocolate cookies, I was thrilled to find I had enough supplies to make a double batch. Right now, the dough is chilling in the refrigerator. I have to hurry and get these done when load shedding is starting up again in less than two hours, and the oven is electric.

Tomorrow is Tom’s 70th birthday. As mentioned, we’ll be celebrating with Louise and Danie tomorrow night at Jabula. His birthday’s close proximity to Christmas Eve (one day) makes celebrating with multiple friends difficult although, in 2018, Rita and Gerhard gave him a surprise birthday party (see the post here) for ten of us. It was a fantastic evening we’ll always remember and appreciate.

That’s it for today, folks! Have a lovely day and be well.

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

Siegfried and Roy, giving another warthog a “bath.” For more photos, please click here.