Part 3…Wow!…What a fantastic party!…Video from the party!…

Today is our last post about my 75th birthday party in Marloth Park, attended by 28 guests, our four wonderful helpers, as shown in the above video, and our dear friends and caterers, Louise and Danie Thiart. It couldn’t have been a more enjoyable evening, and from the positive feedback we received in the past several days, everyone in attendance thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

I must admit, I am still smiling over the event and will remember it with the warmest feelings for years to come. Every aspect of the party was meaningful and special to me, from the guests in attendance, our caterers, the decorations, the welcome drinks, the starters, the main courses, and all the many side dishes and specialty items.

These are well-seasoned little meatballs among fig quarters, cucumber rolls, and grape tomatoes were delicious!!

Unfortunately, I was so busy having fun that I failed to take photos when the main items were served, including many braai types of meat, homemade bread, and all the fixings to accompany them. I wish I had stopped long enough to take more fantastic food photos.

Both Tom and I always enjoy traditional African dancing and music. We all enjoyed the above video when Martha, Mpumi, Vusi, and Zef performed a special African dance for our guests. Please take a moment to click on the video to see what we could savor later in the evening when our helpers stopped long enough from cleanup and dishes to dance for us.

They served dozens of these spoons filled with taste-tempting treats, including such items as prawns, smoked salmon, and cheeses.

We’ve had an opportunity to see dancers perform throughout Africa over the years of traveling on the continent. It’s hard to sit still when watching since the music and energy always have such an enticing beat that it’s hard to stay seated during such delightful cultural events.

So, dear readers/friends, this is the last of our stories and photos about the party. Still, the experience will remain in our hearts for many years to come; we are grateful for our friends Louise and Danie and their amazing helpers and, of course, our friends who took the time to celebrate with us on this milestone birthday.

I peeked in the refrigerator when we arrived 30 minutes before the party started, finding all the yummy food waiting to be served.

Again, it rained last night, and the bush is thick with bright green leaves and vegetation to feed the animals in the park. Whether we or others offer pellets, vegetables, or fruit, the animals are well-fed. Anything we may provide at this point is comparable to giving a treat to a beloved animal.

The decorations were particularly appealing after dark.

This is the most rain we’ve seen in the seasons we’ve spent in Marloth Park. Many locals say the same as well – the best rainy season ever!

Today is another low-key day for us. It’s too wet and rainy for us to head into Kruger National Park, but we will embark on a self-drive safari when the weather is good for taking photos. As always, our visit will include breakfast at the Mugg & Bean and browsing through the enticing gift shop, which I always love to do. Tom has no interest in shopping!

Our friend Matthieu took a photo of me taking a picture of him. We laughed out loud! He’s a professional photographer who does game drives in Kruger.

We’re working our way through the leftovers in the freezer since our braai is broken and will be replaced in the next few days when,l once again, we’ll cook outdoors. And, before we know it, it will be Friday and Saturday nights when we’ll return to Jabula for fun at the bar and to dine on their great food, which we always enjoy.

Have a fantastic day, and be well. The only difference is that these wild animals can easily fend for themselves in the lush and full bush after all this rain.

 Photo from one year ago today, February 28, 2022:

I kept thinking about Little stopping by several times after leaving and not finding us there. For more photos, please click here.

Part 2…Wow!…What a fantastic party!…

These delightful amuse-bouche spoons were a party favorite. There were about 100 of these spoon starters (appetizers). There were several unique contents. They were fun to eat and delicious!

We’re rushing this morning, hoping to get as much of this post done before we leave for Malalane to Dr. Singh’s office for my dental appointment, All went well, and I didn’t have to have the tooth pulled after all. I am thrilled, to say the least.

We caught this kudu eating a display platter when Louise was putting out the food. We removed the food afterward but couldn’t stop laughing. Danie was keeping an eye out to ensure this didn’t happen again.

I cannot begin to tell you the positive responses we’ve had from many guests who attended my party. My Whatsapp notification has frequently been dinging in the past 24 hours, and we couldn’t be more delighted. Of course, we can take no credit for the party. It was all due to  Louise and Danie’s efforts.

Pretty decorations adorned the veranda at the party.

Some comments include:

From: Alan and Fiona: “Good morning, Jessica! Thank you for having us at your incredible 75th birthday celebration. The venue was lovely, the food was outstanding, and the company was great! You will always remember this one! Fiona and I wish you and Tom much happiness in your future travels, Much love from us!”

Roz, me, Myrdah, and Dawn.

From: Alan and Fiona to Louise and Danie:  “Hi Louise and Danie! Wow! What a magnificent spread last night! I don’t think Marloth Park EVER had a party catered to that standard before! Congratulations! I’m sure the birthday girl was impressed because the guests didn’t know what hit them!”

Fiona and Alan, coincidentally, were back from the coast for a few weeks and were able to come to the party.

From Dawn: Dearest Jessica and Tom, what a magnificent evening on Saturday…the best home birthday party I have ever been to. Thank you for all the trouble you went to. We love you lots.”

Leon and Fiona.

From Leon: Good morning! Saturday night was out of this World…too many things to mention. One of the best-prepared birthday parties we’ve been to in many, many years…Thank you. Please thank everyone involved from us!”

Doc Mel, Doc Theo’s brother.

From Janine and Vasco: Good morning Jess…just want to thank you for an absolutely fabulous birthday get-together. Have a superb day, and please don’t forget to send photos, as I have none.”

In all, we had 28 guests arrive at the party. Many of the guests knew one another.

Last night, we had a pleasant evening again, eating more leftovers from the freezer since after the party, when we didn’t feel like cooking, although the only thing I made for the party was the two cakes, one of which we wiped out at the party and the second, which we took home. It’s a keto chocolate cake that is not as moist as a regular cake made with flour and regular sugar, but to me (and to Dawn), it tasted great.

More cheeses and toppings for Danie’s homemade bread.

Last night after dinner, I cut myself a big chunk of the keto cake while Tom ate two cupcakes Louise had made for the party as shown in the photos below. They certainly looked delicious, and Tom said they were definitely tasty!

Louise set up this beautiful display of cupcakes she had made for the party. Tom was thrilled there was a dessert with regular flour and sugar, and he loved them!

Now back from the dentist with the good news, we can both sit back and enjoy another rainy day in the bush with many wildlife visitors. We have lots of red wine left, including some given to me as gifts and many bottles of white wine. We went through 11 bottles of Prosecco at the party with one bottle remaining.

Tom, me, Theo’s wife Myrdah, Doc Mel and his wife, and Doc Philip’s wife.

Together we brought 40 bottles of wine (including Prosecco) to the party and went through only about 20 bottles plus, we brought five cases of 500 ml (16.9 oz.) Lion beer and went through 1½ cases (24 packs). I guess the Prosecco and the beer were the biggest hits. Now we have plenty of beer and wine left for our personal needs (and guests) until we leave here in June. This is the place to come for sundowners!!!

Vusi and  Mpumi are in this photo, but Zef and Martha were all there to assist. They did a fantastic job of helping and cleaning the house and all the dishes the next day.

We’ve put everything away, including all the white wines in the refrigerator and all the red wines in boxes in the closet.  I got some lovely gifts even after telling everyone no gifts!  Thank you to all of our guests and all of our family, friends, and readers for a wonderful birthday I will always remember!

Vasco and Janine.

Tomorrow, there will be more photos from the party and an exciting African dance video of our helpers you will love!

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, February 27, 2022:

At Kwa Madwala, guests can opt for safaris on horseback. For more photos, please click here.

Part 1…Wow!…What a fantastic party!…

Here we are with Dooc Theo, who saved my life, and his lovely wife, Myrtah. We were so happy they came to my party along with the other two doctors in the practice, Doc Mel and Doc Philip, and their lovely wives.

What a fantastic party it was. Louise and Danie couldn’t have made it more perfect with the beautiful decorations, delicious food, and inviting ambiance. They worked hard but seemed to enjoy seamlessly and professionally putting it all together. We have many more photos to share and will continue to post them over the next several days.

Delicious welcome drinks, including Bloody Marys, topped with a slice of crispy bacon and non-alcoholic vegetable juice. We caught a kudu eating off the wooden board.

With lots of catering experience in the past, they knew exactly what to do, never for a moment leaving us wanting for another element when every detail was presented to perfection. I can only imagine a fabulous wedding, anniversary party, or any other special occasion coupled with the bush’s wonder and exemplary services.

Because they are both such great friends, we trusted their decisions on every aspect of the party. Under any other circumstances with any other caterers, I would have had a significant hand in every area of the planning. With them, we could sit back and let them do their magic.

One of several breadboards with delicious toppings.

Adding to the blissfully planned event were our guests. Everyone who’d RSVP’d showed up and made us both feel so special. The lively conversations, laughter, and camaraderie fell into a leisurely pace. Unfortunately, the evening seemed to pass too quickly, and I didn’t get to spend enough time with each of our guests.

Amid all the rain, Louise and Danie beautifully set up the house and the garden. It rained briefly but never caused issues with the guest’s enjoyment at the party.

As mentioned, we’d invited the three doctors and their wives to spend the night. They took off for bed by midnight while we sat around the big table on the veranda. But seeing everyone having such a good time warmed our hearts throughout the enjoyable evening.

Danie had baked bread, and many kinds of cheese were available during the appetizer course.

I felt bad we were all so noisy, having an ongoing great time that by about 1:00 am, we scooted everyone home so our overnight guests could sleep. Tom and I never got to bed until after 2:00 am. We were both wide awake, reeling from the beautiful evening. Finally, we dozed off, not awakening until after 9:00 am, a rarity for both of us.

A beautiful gin and vodka bar were set up in the dining room, where everyone could make their welcome drinks.

With everyone gone today, by late morning, we returned to the party house and collected all the unopened bottles of wine. We supplied about 42 bottles of wine and have about 20 bottles, which I’ll eventually consume over the next many months, sharing with visitors who stop by.

Delicious foods stayed warm in the oven, including meats for sliders and various delicious foods.

I don’t usually drink wine other than the lightest varieties, but I will simply drink less of the regular wines in any particular sitting, perhaps no more than one glass at a time. As a result, we won’t need to buy any more wine while we’re still here in South Africa. Plus, it will be fun to share any of the white or red wines with visitors.

We’d specified on our invitation, “Please, no gifts,” but some brought gifts and cards anyway, every one of which I will thoroughly enjoy and do appreciate.

In the back row from left to right, Lorne and Sydney. and Tom. Sinndee, Leon, and, Dawn are in the front row from left to right.

There’s no way we can thank Louise and Danie for all they’ve done. We can only hope that some of our readers may consider Marloth Park for any special occasion to savor this magical place and have this fine couple help them arrange their special occasion with memories that will last a lifetime.

More will follow tomorrow!

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, February 26, 2022:

This young male kudu is sprouting his horns. So adorable. For more photos, please click here.

Today’s the party!!!…It’s raining buckets, off and on…

One of the two identical chocolate keto cakes I frosted this morning. They are not perfect but they will be tasty.

Soon, I will frost the two cakes for tonight’s party. But I only took the blocks of butter out of the refrigerator a short time ago. In this hot, humid weather, it should soften sufficiently to begin to make the frosting for the two-layer cakes. All I have to do to prepare to arrive at the party house at 4:30 pm, 1630 hrs., is frost the cakes, do my nails, pack the cooler with the breakfast foods for the docs and their wives, pack the cakes, and get ready.

Forty days ago, I ordered four shirts from a company that ships to South Africa. When the package hadn’t arrived yesterday afternoon, I gave up hope that I’d have something more dressy and new to wear to the party. Surely, one of the four tops I selected would be suitable.

Wouldn’t you know, last night, while we were at the bar at Jabula, I got a phone call from the delivery guy that he was in Marloth Park but needed someone to sign for the package. He offered to drop it off at one of the security companies, Securicon, located on the main paved road in Marloth. We appreciated his willingness to do this.

On the left of this photo, you can see the humidity in the air when Octomom and her eight piglets visited. Of course, we tossed pellets their way.

After we had a fun time at Jabula, on our way home, we stopped at Securicon, and they indeed had the package with my four tops. Any one of the tops will be suitable for the party since I am thrilled with each one. Currently, they are hanging on hangers on the clothes drying rack outside under the veranda roof, hoping the wrinkles will come out.

I purchased them from Lightinthebox, a company I’ve used in the past where I can buy decent quality, reasonably priced clothes that require six weeks shipping time to South Africa. By making purchases from this company, they deal with customs and shipping, so I don’t have to do a thing, a far cry from ordering anything from the US which is expensive and a hassle.

It’s raining off and on in buckets today. It seems to rain for 30 minutes, then stops for a while, the sun comes out, and then starts up again. If this continues this way, I don’t think we’ll have to be concerned about guests coming to the party. If it rained non-stop, the dirt roads in Marloth Park might be challenging to navigate. But, right now, we’re optimistic.

The piglets have a great time playing together.

Speaking of Jabula, the visitors scheduled to meet with us last night couldn’t make it. They didn’t get into Kruger in time to meet up with us after their game drive, and we understood. Most people come here for the wildlife in the gardens of the holiday homes and an opportunity to get into Kruger. With access to Crocodile Bridge impossible for weeks due to flooding, we sure understood when they could finally enter.

Nonetheless, we had a great time at Jabula chatting with Dawn, Leon, David, and guests that we’d already met at other events. Once again, it was another fun evening. And, of course, we’re looking forward to seeing Dawn, Leon, and David at our party tonight.

Also, we can’t stop thinking of all the hard work Louise and Danie are doing right now preparing all the food and decorations for the party in this heat and humidity. We’re heading to the party house at 4:30, 1630 hrs., so Louise and Danie have time to shower and get ready for the party. They’ve been working on it for days.

Johnny and his mom Jasmine in the garden this morning with three more bushbucks on the opposite side of the little fence.

This morning, low on photos, we were thrilled to see Octomom and her eight piglets stop for a visit. They were all soaking wet but were playful and happy. Their mom is taking good care of them. We hadn’t seen them in about ten days and were thrilled that the eight piglets were still intact. It was fun to watch them playing with each other in the rain.

I just finished frosting the two cakes. The heat and humidity were so high that I had to rush and get them into the refrigerator right away to avoid the frosting melting. Since they are homemade keto cakes, they don’t hold up in the weather as easily as cake mixes with fillers and preservatives. I’m not the best at frosting cakes to look perfect, but I did my best.

Well, folks, that’s it for today. Tomorrow’s post will include the first batch of photos from the party and will continue over the next few days.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, February 25, 2022:

Our upcoming June 29 Azamara cruise to Ukraine’s scheduled itinerary raised significant concerns. Eventually, the cruise was canceled. For more, please click here.

Tomorrow is the party!…Busy baking the two cakes today, knowing there’s 4.5 hours of load shedding tomorrow…

Earl was rolling around in the dirt, having the time of his life.

When we noticed that tomorrow morning’s load shedding starts at 11:00 am and doesn’t end until 3:30 pm, 1530 hrs., and since we can’t use the oven during load shedding, I felt it was best to bake the two double layer cakes today, rather than risk it and try to do it tomorrow.

Besides, with the effects of Cyclone Freddie making an appearance tomorrow, we could easily lose power altogether, and then again, we wouldn’t be able to use the oven, the only appliance we can’t use when our inverter is operating.

Having left all the rest of the planning in Louise and Danie’s hands, at their insistence, we have little else to do between now and then.  We invited Doc Theo, Doc Mel, and Doc Philip to the party, and they and their wives have confirmed. As a thank you for Doc Theo saving my life in 2019, we’ve offered them to stay overnight at the Khaya Umdani house, and we’re bringing over all the breakfast fixings for Sunday morning.

We’re leaving them orange juice and Prosecco to make mimosas along with coffee and fresh cream, eggs, bacon, sausage, fresh fruit, two types of heavy grain bread, butter, apricot, and strawberry jams,  This way; they can get up at their leisure and make a nice breakfast while they lounge at the beautiful house for as long as they’d like….a mini holiday in the bush.  They won’t have to do a thing… no dishes…no cleanup. It’s all taken care of.

Louise arranged for Vusi to stay this weekend to help with the party wearing his traditional Zulu attire, and he will assist in food and beverage service. He is a fine young man who has worked for Louise and Danie for many years. He will be paid and tipped generously for his meticulous work. He takes great pride in his work (as does Zef, as well), and it is evident in everything he does for them, their other clients, and us.

Earl found this spot to roll around in the dirt, which we’ve seen other wildebeests use in the past.

As for the mess at the end of the party, Vusi will take care of everything as well as cleaning up the dishes and cleaning the house after the doctors and their wives leave sometime on Sunday. There will be nothing for us to do. I’m sure Louise and Danie will be very busy throughout the party as they are today and tomorrow, preparing all the food and drinks.

Fortunately, the Khaya Umdani house has solar power, installed recently, so even if the storm knocks out the power, and of course, during load shedding, the food will be kept safe and the guests comfortable. We won’t be sitting outdoors in the dark or eating food kept in a refrigerator that wasn’t operational due to load shedding for over four hours.

All four layers for the two chocolate keto cakes I am making are now cooled and in the refrigerator. I couldn’t leave them out due to flies and high humidity. Tomorrow morning, I will make the frosting and frost and decorate both cakes. Photos will follow in tomorrow’s post.

We had an excellent breakfast this morning, as we always do. After almost 32 years, I’ve finally learned how to make Tom’s eggs properly. I’m a good cook, but I’ve always had trouble making eggs over easy without breaking the yolks. My issue was always impatience, turning the eggs too soon or too late.

Torn Ear and Broken Horn are hanging out by the pool.

Now, I turn the eggs and immediately remove the pan from the burner and remove them onto the plate so they stop cooking. Voila! Perfect over easy eggs. Tom is thrilled, even though it took me so many years to get it right. Sure, he could make his eggs, but I am the chosen cook in the household. He handles countless other tasks I dislike, such as dishes. We’re both content with our selected household tasks.

Those black worms are still around. Last night, we left the still-wet laundry outdoors on the rack. I had a dream that when I got up in the morning, I went outside to discover thousands of those black worms on the clean clothes. That was not the case. I only found one black worm on the laundry on a black washcloth. I flicked it away, and we were good to go on the rest. Whew!

Tonight, we’re headed to Jabula at 5:00 pm, 1700 hours, but much to our delight, we’re meeting people at the bar for sundowners who are from the US and are relatives of the wife of a very wonderful man that worked for me over 20 years ago. It will be fun to have a drink with Roger’s wife, Barb’s sister Victoria, and her family members, Small world, isn’t it?

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today,  February 24, 2022:

Ironically, yesterday, Tom and I went to Stoep Cafe, and I had this same salad. One year ago, Rita and I each had this fantastic smoked trout salad at Stoep Cafe the prior day. Coincidence.  For more photos, please click here.

Busy morning…Off to Komatipoort once again…

This is Earl, on a mission to check out the pellet situation…which is good. We love it when wildebeests peek around the side of the house to see if we’re on the veranda. It always makes us laugh, the funny creatures that they are!

We have to leave shortly for our teeth cleaning appointments with Luzaan in Komatipoort, head to the pharmacy for a few things, then off to Spar for some vegetables and odds and ends for the party in two days. It’s hard to believe it came up so quickly. It seemed so far away for so long.

Louise and Danie are busy getting ready to make all the exquisite food for our event, and we couldn’t be more excited to see what they decided to make. Much to my surprise, I let them make all the food decisions. Usually, I’d be right in there trying to control the situation.

After a while, he moved over the veranda railing to see if any pellets were being tossed to the piglets. Again, Earl lucked out.

But, the new me, along with total trust that they will do a fantastic job and know what we would want to serve, we left it all in their hands. I didn’t need to suggest a thing knowing they have such fine taste and are such spectacular cooks. Almost all of our guests are South African, and there are certain ways of cooking and foods that South Africans like, although their taste buds vary for other options.

Of course, we’ll be taking plenty of photos of the food, the decor, and the people. We can’t wait to share them here with our readers which may be posted over several days. Also, what an excellent way to document this special event in my life. At any time, we are only a few clicks away from savoring the event once again in photos.

We can’t believe the perfect tusks on this mom of four piglets.

We just returned from Komati after getting our teeth cleaned; having a lovely breakfast at Stoep Cafe; visiting the pharmacist to fill my antibiotic prescription for Monday’s tooth extraction; and finally, a quick shopping trip to Spar. We left at 9:30 am, and now it is after 2:30 pm, 1430 hrs., and I’m sitting on the bed with the fan blowing on me, attempting to cool off and finish today’s post.

Once we got into the house and put away the perishables, I got the first of two loads of laundry hung on the outdoor rack. I left the non-perishable items on the kitchen counter to put away after Tom’s nap. He tries to take a nap every day at 2:00 pm, but it doesn’t always work out.

Ugly worm. Red markings on insects often indicate that venom is a possibility.

My options were to stay in the dining room to finish the post, where it is sweltering right now, or quietly finish it in the bedroom with the fan blowing on me while I cool off. I chose to go into the bedroom, and be as quiet as a mouse, typing on my keyboard, and ensuring that the dinging notifications were turned off on my laptop and phone.

While Tom’s teeth were being cleaned, I went to our eye doctor’s office next door to buy a new pair of sunglasses. I’d purchased one of those cheap drugstore varieties months ago but found them to be uncomfortable with the lenses being too dark. Today, I bit the bullet and purchased a quality pair of JEEP brand sunglasses (US-made vehicle brand), spending ZAR 1500, US $82, way more than I usually spend for non-prescription sunglasses.

We will be glad when these creepy black worms are gone within a few weeks. They fall on us when we are outdoors.

When we returned home, I looked online to see that I had paid a reasonable price. Imported products in South Africa are usually expensive, although often not quite as much as one would pay in the US. I am satisfied with my purchase. These should last a few years, especially if I store them in the case that came with them. I promised myself I won’t throw them in the bottom of whatever cloth bag I was using at the time.

We have great leftovers tonight for a low-key evening on the veranda. Last night, I wore one of Tom’s Bugs Away shirts and didn’t get any new bites. I think the repellent in my Bugs Away shirts has worn off since I still get bites while wearing them. I can wear Tom’s shirt around the house, especially in the early evenings when the mozzies are on a rampage, although I wouldn’t wear one of his in public since they are way too big for me and look sloppy.

The clothes I ordered to wear to my party have not arrived, and won’t at this late a date, I don’t think they’ll arrive in time. I guess I will have to wear something I already have. I supposed that once I’m dressed and ready, I won’t give it another thought.

I am off to the kitchen, quietly leaving the bedroom, to put away the rest of the groceries and hang up the second load of laundry; It’s so humid I doubt they’ll dry until tomorrow after more time in the sun.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, February 23, 2022:

Broken Horn steps onto the veranda and can wait an hour for us to “do something.” For more photos, please click here.

Cyclone Freddie is on its way…How will this impact our party?…

Photo Cyclone Freddi in Madagascar from a news story at this site.

Cyclone Freddie just hit Madagascar, as shown in the above photo. It’s about a two-hour drive from Marloth Park to the Mozambique Channel (part of the Indian Ocean). We may not get a direct hit but could easily experience heavy rains and winds. According to Saturday’s weather report, rain is expected at 5:00 pm, 1700 hrs., when the party starts and continues throughout the evening.

We are not worried at all. If the winds don’t escalate, we should be able to be outdoors during the party with the huge roof over the veranda, But the Khaya Umdani house is large enough to accommodate all of the expected 28 guests. There is an enormous lounge room with lots of seating should we all choose to stay indoors.

The humidity will be high, but the temperature will be around 70F, 21C. It shouldn’t be too uncomfortable at the party. We hope the rain won’t keep any of our party-goers from coming. About 12 guests come from Komatipoort, but South Africans are used to inclement weather.

A lovely kudu and her calf. The mom looks pregnant again.

This morning at 11:00 am, Dawn and I met up at Imbewe Spa in Marloth Park for pedicures. We always have a great time chatting and laughing among ourselves and the technicians. It’s a delightful way to relax and end up with pretty-looking toes. I hadn’t had a pedicure since before Christmas, and it certainly was time to do another, especially with the upcoming party, to which I will wear sandals.

I had ordered a few items of clothing to wear to the party, but they have yet to arrive, and now I suspect they won’t be here on time with the party only three days from today. So it goes. TIA. I always remind myself that “This is Africa,” and I don’t expect things to be like they are in the US or many other countries worldwide.

After Tom picked me up at the spa when my pedi was done, we headed to Louise’s office. We wanted to pay for the party’s catering and pick up a printed prescription from Dr. Singh for antibiotics for the upcoming tooth extraction on Monday. I wish I’d arranged for the extraction to be a few more days down the road so I wouldn’t have to think about it over the party weekend.

Norman and Nina are in the garden enjoying pellets. The baby was outside the little fence.

With the tooth hurting more recently, it was important not to wait another day. I had postponed it due to the post-Covid face pain and sinus problem on the opposite side, and I’d waited long enough. Once this is done, I will have a great sense of relief. I always dread any type of dental work.

At Louise’s office, we discussed some of the plans for the party. Tomorrow, Vusi will come to get all the beer and wine and ensure everything that requires chilling is started. There’s a wine cooler at the house, which will come in handy. Tom will buy tons of ice for the party to ensure we don’t run out. South Africans generally use ice with their white wine since it gets warm quickly in the hot weather.

I am making salmon and tuna salad for tonight’s dinner, while Tom will have leftover pizza and green salad. Thus,  we’re all set for tonight’s and tomorrow’s dinners. I have to bake and frost the two keto chocolate cakes for the party on Saturday.

Kudus are such good-looking animals. Then again, we find most of the wildlife to have an attractive look about them.

We won’t be using birthday candles. After Covid, having anyone blowing on a cake makes no sense. I’ve seen many photos of birthday parties with candles being blown out. When I think of that now, I wonder why this traditional practice ever made sense. Besides, 75 candles are way too many to put atop a cake.

That’s it for today, folks. I’m running a little late getting today’s post done and would like to have it uploaded before we wind down our day and relax for the evening.

Thanks again to our family, friends/readers for all the heartfelt birthday wishes. I received more than any other year this year, and it meant the world to me.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, February 22, 2022:

Us at the bar at Jabula on the night of my 74th birthday. For more photos, please click here.

It was a fantastic 75th birthday with more celebrations yet to come..

What a great time was celebrating my birthday at Tamborina Restaurant in Komatipoort with Dawn and Leon!

We had such a fun day yesterday on my birthday. Any reason to celebrate is a cause for us to plan an event. Initially, we hadn’t planned to do anything with the party coming up on Saturday, but when Dawn and Leon asked what we were doing, we all decided to go to lunch.

It is always fun to get Dawn and Leon out of the restaurant and able to relax with us. It was such fun spending my birthday with such good friends.

We all decided to head to the Portuguese restaurant on the main road in Komatipoort for lunch since none of us cared to drive in the dark from Komati to Marloth Park. We don’t usually drink alcohol during the day, but we were in a celebratory mood and each ordered drinks with our lunches.

Dawn ate one roll, and Tom ate the rest. How unusual!

They didn’t have light wine, as in all of the restaurants in Marloth Park, so I ended up with regular white wine and slowly sipped on it with lots of ice in the glass, diluting it sufficiently for my taste. Our food was delicious, as shown in today’s photos, and we had fun taking photos of each other so we’d have something to post.

My grilled chicken and bacon salad was delicious.

We always enjoy having time out and about with Dawn and Leon, getting them away from Jabula for social time without the distractions of running the restaurant practically around the clock. Our conversations are always filled with laughter and. profound and important topics and commonalities we share.

I also ordered this little bowl of grilled calamari which was also delicious. Guess who ate my bread?

We hadn’t been to Tamborina in quite some time. The last time we were, there was with Rita and Gerhard a few years ago when we also had a perfect time. Dining is exclusively outdoors; yesterday, it was initially uncomfortable in the heat and humidity. But, once we got situated, pillows under our butts on the wooden chairs, we forgot all about it.

Reminiscent of our ten months in lockdown in India, Tom couldn’t resist ordering Chicken Penne Pasta which he ate every night for eight of the ten months.

The time flew by. After we finished our lunch, Leon suggested we visit one of his favorite bars in Komati, which we’d heard him talk about occasionally, but had never visited. Leon hesitated for us to go thinking it was too much of a “working class” bar for our tastes. But, in Minnesota, we’d often attend get-togethers with family and friends at casual, laid-back bars.

Dawn and Leon both had the fried sole with chips and rice.

We can easily enjoy all types of bars and restaurants as we did while living in Minnesota. We don’t always need to be in an upscale environment to have a good time.

After lunch,  the four of us stopped at a little bar in Komatipoort, Koos se Kroeg, which had these money-sucking slot machines. We didn’t play. We stayed until load shedding started, and it became sweltering in the bar without aircon.

As it turned out, we were the only customers there, along with the owner’s wife, who served us while the owner was asleep on the pool table, as shown in the photo below. Hahahaha. We all had a good chuckle over that.

The owner of the bar was asleep on the pool table.

Back at home around 3:30 pm, 1530 hrs., I finished the post for the day and relaxed in the bedroom with the fan on to cool off. Tom was still too full for dinner (especially after eating five pieces of bread), but my light meal left me hungry by dinnertime. I reheated a few slices of homemade keto pizza to eat while we watched a few shows on my laptop. The mosquitoes and black worms were everywhere, so we didn’t care to be outdoors while I ate my pizza.

I talked on the phone with my sister Julie for about an hour with lots of laughing. Later on, I spent a lot of time thanking family, readers/friends for sending so many thoughtful birthday wishes. It was a great day.

Today, we’re staying home, again eating leftover pizza and salad and enjoying a quiet day in the bush. The sun is shining, the temperature is 90F, 32C, the humidity is only 47%, and the dew point is a much lower 67 today. It’s much more tolerable today than over the past weeks.

That’s it for today, folks. We look forward to sharing more new photos tomorrow.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, February 21, 2022:

Danie and Louise were hanging onto our elephant’s tusks. For more photos, please click here.

It will be a wonderful 75th birthday!…Gratefulness is at the forefront….Attack of the black worms…

There are thousands of these black worms on the veranda and in our garden.

There are no words I can say to express my gratitude for this milestone birthday. Well, it’s a milestone by my standards, three-quarters of a century…good grief. I never imagined this would be my life when I was 75. I’d imagined we’d be living in the US in a senior community of one sort or another, going out to dinner for the early bird special, having breakfast at Perkins or Denny’s on occasion, lots of family gatherings, playing cards, and making a monthly visit to our primary care physician, as most seniors in the US do.

Instead, our physician, Doc Theo, his two associates,(his brother) Doc Mel, and Doc Philip, and their wives, along with many other friends, are joining us for my catered birthday party on Saturday in the bush. My biggest concern is that we have plenty of South African wines and beer to serve at the party, and many animals stop by for a visit. It’s all so fun and exciting.

These worms are caterpillars. But there are way too many of them! Yuck!

This morning our garden was filled with animals. Even Norman stopped by to wish me a Happy Birthday, to which I tossed him “Norman’s lunch.” But, speaking of lunch, in a short time, we’re heading out to meet Dawn and Leon (great friends and owners of Jabula) for lunch at Tamborina in Komatipoort, known for their fantastic seafood.

Since we prefer not to drive in the dark, a lunchtime event was more suitable today, the actual day of my birthday. The birthday party is being held on Saturday, February 25, at the gorgeous Khaya Umdani house, with lots of room for our 28 guests, rain or shine. Our home isn’t big enough to accommodate that size of a group, so Louise and Danie offered this house to us for my birthday. Wow! This will work out well!

Mushroom is growing at the base of a tree in the garden due to the high humidity.

We wish we could have invited more of the many lovely friends we’ve made in Marloth Park, but space is limited, and the magic number was 28, with seating for everyone. We’re bringing our Bluetooth speaker for music, and we’ll be mainly playing oldies from the 70s and 80s. For all we know, there will be dancing on the veranda.

Although the party will be casual, the food will undoubtedly be over the top. Louise and Danie are catering the food and accouterments. They have hosted weddings and other special events and are excellent at this. Of course, we’ll post many photos from the party and hopefully from today’s lunch.

This Big Daddy kudu appears to be sprouting one of those third mini horns between his eyes, the weirdest phenomenon.

Since yesterday, we’ve noticed an invasion by some ugly black worms. They are common this time of the year, but we’ve never seen them until this year. Most likely, they are due to all the rain we’ve had in the past several weeks. Supposedly they are harmless but annoying when they land on us.

Now that my long-haul Covid symptoms are improving, on Monday, I am having a tooth pulled by Dr. Singh in Malalne. Hopefully, he will be able to place a temporary tooth to avoid me walking around with a gaping hole that will show when I open my mouth or smile. I will report how that works out next Tuesday. If it didn’t still hurt, I wouldn’t be doing this! I despise going to the dentist and, even worse, having a tooth pulled.

These dazzle zebras have been regular visitors lately.

Thanks to all of our wonderful family readers/friends for the birthday wishes. Every one of you is so thoughtful to think of me on this special day. You have no idea how much this means to me.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, February 20, 2022:

Louise and Danie hosted the interaction event for my birthday. We couldn’t believe we could be so close and interact with the two elephants who freely roam in the wild. e photos, please click here.

Another humid scorcher!!!…A busy morning left me sweating…

Four Big Daddies stopped by for pellets this morning. They share nicely with one another.

At the moment, I am in the bedroom at 1:00 pm, 1300 hrs., after sweating in the kitchen for the past three hours. I made breakfast, cooked and chopped the cooled sausages for homemade keto pizza, made three pizza crusts, chopped and diced all the vegetables, and pre-cooked the pizza crusts.

Since we can’t use the oven during load shedding, which occurs at dinnertime tonight, we decided to cook all three pizzas now and can heat our servings in the microwave when it’s time to eat this evening. All I have left is to make the salad which I’ll do once I cool down.

Zebras don’t get along when vying for pellets. They snort, head-butt, and kick one another. But, they do fine when drinking from the pool.

With all the rain lately and the mozzies on a rampage for human flesh, I am again wearing long pants and a long sleeve Bugs-Away shirt with the sleeves buttoned at the wrist on the tighter button to ensure none will fly up the sleeve for a nibble. It’s the only way to protect myself, especially when sweating wears off the DEET repellent. I can’t stand the thought of reapplying that toxic chemical any more often than I have to.

Although I reapply repellent every six hours, when it’s supposed to last in dry conditions for eight hours, I still end up with lots of bites. I wake up during the night itching like crazy when, even with the aircon on, I still sweat under the light blanket. It seems that warmth exacerbates the itchiness.

Recently, I’ve found that using Benzocaine numbing cream stops the itching for several hours, but it doesn’t work well during the day when using repellent with it. It never seems to work out using multiple cream products on the skin, such as applying any body lotion while using repellent.

It’s always a pleasure to see these big boys in the garden.

Once the bedroom cooled down, I turned off the aircon and am fairly comfortable with the fan running at its highest speed. I may end up spending the next few hours in the bedroom working on today’s post and other projects, such as researching holiday homes for upcoming locations.

We feel we’re somewhat on hold from booking much more right now while we await the answer to our visa extensions. If we don’t get the approval to stay until June, leaving in March would impact what we’d do next. We can only wait and see what transpires in the next few weeks.

Last night, we had another fun-filled evening at the bar at Jabula. Locals we’d met in the past were there, and the conversation was lively and animated. Later in the evening, back home, we watched another episode of the Good Doctor, a show we are binge-watching at night. Its quite an enjoyable series with lots of episodes.

Bossy stopped by to see what was on the menu.

We’d planned to go to Kruger tomorrow on my birthday, but the Crocodile Bridge is still closed, and we don’t want to drive an extra three hours to go up and back from the Malalane Gate. We’ll go another day as soon as the river settles down.

I’ll upload a short post tomorrow morning since we’re meeting Dawn and Leon for my birthday lunch at Tamborina, located in Komatipoort. This way, neither of us will have to drive in the dark, if we’d gone for dinner. We rarely go out to dinner to any restaurants that would require us to drive home at night. It’s not safe on the roads.

Today, we’re content to stay home, enjoy our pizza and salad dinner, and later hunker down in the cool bedroom for some mindless drivel, the end of a perfect Sunday in the bush.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, February 19, 2022:

Seigfried and Roy were sharing pellets. For more photos, please click here.