Few animals stopping by…Photos from seven years ago…Boredom…

A single beautiful lily in the lily pad pot in the yard in New Plymouth, New Zealand, in 2016.

Note; Due to a lack of photos right now, today’s photos are from a post on March 10, 2016, when we lived in New Plymouth, New Zealand, for three months on an alpaca farm. See the post here.

I think the black worm invasion is over. I sat at the table on the veranda this morning, and not a single worm fell on me. A few nights ago, when I got into bed, I felt something on the top of my foot. It was a black worm! I let out a little startled scream. I don’t usually scream when I see insects or even snakes. But, a hairy, slimy, black worm slithering on my foot surpassed my level of calmness.

I must have picked it up when I’d gone into the kitchen to turn on the little lamp, close the blinds and turn off the overhead light. Yuck. I’ve had it with them. This morning, when I didn’t see a single worm on the floor in the house or the veranda, I sighed in relief. They are gone. Finally. They were here for about four weeks.

Similar to Australia, many of the beaches in New Zealand are uneven and rocky.

As a result, I was able to sit at the table on the veranda to eat my breakfast of smoked salmon and two eggs atop two thin slices of homemade keto bread. What a treat! There’s no breakfast I could enjoy more. The only addition I could use is having breakfast outdoors with Tom. Gee…these next five days can’t pass quickly enough.

His absence has created a feeling of boredom I haven’t experienced in over ten years. I’m never bored when he is here. If a thought pops into my head, I need only to approach him, and he immediately stops whatever he is doing to pay 100% attention to me. Who does that? Of course, I’m not a pest, and when he’s engrossed in something, I can leave him alone until he’s done.

The nights are easier than the days. I’ve been binge-watching a TV series….911 Lone Star with Rob Lowe, and although it’s totally unrealistic, it’s entertaining enough for me to watch it while I play games on my phone. I should be done with it by the time Tom returns.

We often stopped at this favorite spot for photos of Mount Taranaki.

But, during the day with Tom away, when I’ve completed the post, usually by 1:00 or 2:00 pm, 1300 or 1400 hrs., is when I find myself feeling like a lion in a cage, practically pacing the house with nothing to do. In my old life, I would call a friend or family member, run an errand, work out at the health club, or work on a project around the house. I was never bored then.

But now, with the house always clean, the bed always made, and dinner prepared early in the day due to the heat, I find myself watching mindless drivel on a streaming service on my laptop to ward off my feelings of boredom, perhaps interspersed with profound feelings of missing my partner, my lover, my friend.

I may sound like I am complaining. I am not. It’s more of an observation I’ve experienced these past five days. It’s not as if we spend every moment in each other’s presence when he is here. It’s the calming and comforting sense that this delightful human being, my husband, is available to me at a moment’s notice to make me laugh, smile or feel loved. I am so grateful for him, as he is for me. We never take each other for granted.

The beach on a cloudy evening.

On occasion, Tom asks me, “Are you bored?’

I always say,  “No, are you bored? I am never bored”

His answer is the same. This life we’ve chosen to live, however peculiar it may be to some, never leaves us feeling bored. At any given turn, there is something that attracts our attention, often inspiring us to take photos or “write about it.” The anticipation of that fact alone prevents either of us from ever becoming bored. Even something as simple as each other attracting our attention is sufficient to keep us entertained, wherever we may be at any given time. We are very blessed to have one another.

Tonight, I will be entertained going to Jabula when my friend Sindee picks me up at 5:00 pm, 1700 hours, and bring me back to the house later in the evening. I haven’t decided if I’ll return to Jabula on Saturday night as we always do.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, March 10, 2022:

Helmeted guinea-fowl chicks have yet to develop the blue and red facial features shown on the adult on the far left. For more photos, please click here.

Humidity and rain continue…Kudu pulling down branches…Why???…Animal behavior…

Right now, at 11:00 am, the weather is as follows:

  • Temperature: 77F, 25C,
  • Humidity: 100%
  • Dew Point: 78

Although the temperature is low, the humidity is unbearable. Wearing jeans and a long sleeve Bugs-Away shirt to keep from getting bites, I am drenched in sweat. It continues to rain a few times every 24 hours. I’d much rather have dry, hot days over this uncomfortable humid weather.

Even Little Johnny, with his tiny budding horns, digs in the dirt to get mud on his horns. What constitutes this behavior?

As shown in the above photo of Little Johnny, a young male bushbuck, many of the horned animals, even with tiny budding horns, are digging in the dirt to make themselves look bigger and more intimidating. Some animals dig in the ground with their tusks or horns, searching for edible roots.

With the dirt easily accessible after it’s been raining for weeks, we’ve seen many muddy horns. Even Norman stopped by a few evenings ago with his long horns covered in mud. Later we saw him digging in an anthill to add more dirt, the same anthill we’ve seen kudus, bushbucks, and warthogs attacking from time to time.

Animal behavior is quite interesting, and we look up information online about a particular animal’s behavior almost daily. Oddly, many wildlife species haven’t been studied extensively, and there may be little information about specific behaviors we observe while watching them day after day.

Little Johnny quickly learned how to stare us in the eyes, looking for pellets.

Many casual observers, such as us, speculate about animals’ behavior, but those observations may be incomplete and inaccurate. We often guess why a specific animal is acting a certain way, thus prompting us to conduct research. Of course, we’re always looking for information from reliable sources.

This morning, we watched a male kudu working very hard to take down a branch from a tree. We posted the above video about this behavior in 2018 and are excited to post it again today based on today’s topic. When looking online for “why do kudus knock down branches,” the answers are few and vague.

When we watch this behavior, we think it is for the kudu to eat the inaccessible leaves from higher up on the tree, as shown in our above video. But, often, as today, we watched a kudu pull down a large branch and never eat a single leaf once he’d knocked it down. Is there another reason he may have worked so hard to accomplish this feat?

There were other males and females nearby. Was he showing off his brute strength to intimidate the males and attract the females? It’s hard to find such information to substantiate this type of behavior.

Do these female kudus lie together in the bush for any reason other than to rest? The answers are hard to find.

When we’ve gone on a game drive with guides, their comments vary on animal behaviors. After watching wildlife daily for over three years, we keep our mouths shut about what we’ve observed when in a group. We’re no experts. Jane Goodall spent over 60 years studying and interacting with chimpanzees in the wild, yet she has said there is still much to learn.

As casual observers of animal behavior, our experience is uneducated, limited, and, at times, biased by our love and interest in certain animals. Not a day goes by that I’m not trying to discover the reason for the behaviors exhibited by nyala Norman. How did he and Nina kick Noah out of the family group to ensure he’d stop grazing with them and the new baby? We haven’t seen Noah since then. Others have reported they’ve seen him at least two kilometers from here. Will he ever return?

We’ll never know. Many observers claim to know and understand these various behaviors, but even with them, there is uncertainty. If only animals could talk and tell us the answers to these and other questions. But, like the mystery of life and the afterlife, we can only speculate. We, as humans, just aren’t meant to know some things.

We continue in our relentless pursuit of answers, which makes the search all the more fascinating. That uncertainty inspires us to be continually enthralled by wildlife and the world around us. From that source of motivation, we continue on in our world travels, hungry for more knowledge, connection, and fascination with Mother Nature’s bounty.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, February 17, 2022:

Last night we took this blurry photo of our visiting porcupine through the glass and the screen doors to the veranda. If we’d opened either door, it would have run away. For more photos, please click here.

The rains continue…More flooding…We’re hunkered down until tonight…Another sad animal injury…

Roads have been closed in sections of the Kruger National Park due to heavy rain.
Image: SANParks

The rain stops for an hour, drizzles for another hour, and then comes down with an unspeakable force. It’s expected to continue until Tuesday. There continue to be more and more warnings in the Marloth Park Facebook groups about flooding on certain roads, vehicles getting stuck, and road closings. A lot could happen in the next four days.

We were so sad to see that this Big Daddy kudu, whom we’ve named Torn Horn, suffered such a horrific injury, most likely from a fight with another male kudu.

We’re considering heading out to the little market for a few items as soon as the rain lets up. The videos and photos online are astounding, and as much as we’d like to go out and take some of our own, the little rental car,  a lightweight KWID, would surely result in our getting stuck if we attempted to travel on any of the dirt roads. Neither of us cares to get soaked.

I just touched base with David, and he said it should be OK for us to get there. By going out soon, we can determine if it will be safe and sensible to go to Jabula tonight for dinner. If Olifant Road, the paved main road in Marloth Park, is passable, we will go. It’s about a 10-minute drive from here.

We’ve been surprised that many animals have stopped by during the storm. This morning there were four bushbucks and one duiker in the garden. We tossed pellets to them, but if they don’t eat them right away, they turn into mush from the rain, and they don’t eat the mush.

We put pellets, apples, and carrots on the railing so he wouldn’t have to bend to the ground.

We hadn’t seen Norman, Nina, and the baby for a few days, but they were here for a few hours yesterday afternoon when the rain let up for a while. It was good to see them again. We had more animals in the garden than we’d seen before the Christmas holiday. It was great to see them all together.

Even the mongooses stopped by a few times in the past two days, and we couldn’t cut up paloney fast enough for them. It was fun to see all their babies, already indoctrinated into the frenzy of eating paloney, cut into bite-sized pieces. They also recognize our clicking sounds that attract them to the garden. When a few show up, we make the clicking sounds, and they all come running from everywhere within earshot. It’s quite a sight to see.

Today’s photos of the injured kudu broke our hearts. We fed him apples, carrots, and pellets. He was looking thin. An injury as severe as losing a horn can cause significant disability and even death while the animal tries to recover. Nothing can be done other than to wait and see how he does.

Hopefully, this wound will heal, and he can go about his life in the bush.

Most of the wildlife is sturdy with robust immune systems and often recovers without infections or further harm to their health and well-being. We hope this will be the case with the now-named “Torn Horn” (a mouthful to say). We hope he’ll return to see us again so we can check his progress.

The sun is peeking out right now as it continues to rain. There’s an expression in the Afrikaans language, taught to us by our old friend Okee Dokey, frequently used when describing sunshine when it’s raining. It’s stated as follows:

Jakkals trou met wolf see vrou…which translates to “The fox married the wolf’s wife.” Go figure.

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, February 10, 2022:

Rita sent me this photo on Whatsapp of a tiny newborn bushbaby they found on the veranda. One of the Honorary Rangers, Nadine, picked up the baby to have the bushbaby cared for and eventually released it back into the bush. So sweet. For more photos, please click here.

Wildlife returning?…Another sad loss of a favorite animal…

Marigold was sipping on fresh water in the birdbath.

It couldn’t be a more beautiful day. The sun is shining, the humidity is moderate, birds are singing, and the garden is green and lush from recent rains. There are a variety of antelopes wandering about the grounds. Much to our delight, it appears Aggie, our resident agama, had a baby we saw running up the same tree where the mom resides.

The recent heat, humidity, and time outdoors at night have left me with a few dozen annoying mosquito bites, although I wear repellent around the clock. We keep two types of repellent, a roll-on cream and a spray, which I use every few hours outdoors, but it doesn’t seem to keep me bite-free.

Yesterday, bushbucks Stringy and Marigold were in the garden in the late afternoon. One by one, the wildlife is returning to see us.

Most of the bites are near and on my hands. I attribute this to the fact I often wash my hands and need to reapply the repellent each time. But I realize I haven’t been as good about doing this as I should be and have promised myself to ramp it up today. This is malaria time, and one can’t be too cautious.

No word on Tom’s missing bag yet, but we’re hoping that this week, it will be delivered. Otherwise, I will have to get back to work on filing the insurance claim with the credit card company next week. I’ve still worked on finding receipts for items that were in Tom’s missing baggage. I am putting a good-sized dent in it, just in case we don’t get the bag back.

As mentioned, I didn’t notice anything missing after emptying my returned bag. I was thrilled to have all my belongings back, some of which I’d purchased for upcoming cruises in seven months. Azamara Cruises have a  few special all-white dress-up nights, and I bought a few white dresses online for the occasion. Tom had purchased white pants, but those were in his missing bag.

Stringy was looking up at something with his mouth full of pellets.

As for the most recent sad loss of a favorite animal, I believe our dear Lollie has passed away. She had three piglets in early November, but after giving birth, it appeared she had intestines hanging out of her butt. This has worsened over the past weeks to a point where it was devastating to see. Only days ago, they were almost hanging to the ground. We both knew then she wouldn’t last long. As our resident warthog, Lollie was integral to our enjoyment in the bush.

We will miss her, the gentle pig she was, always happy to see us, friendly to other animals, other than when she was protecting those piglets, whom we named Leon, Dawn, and David, our dear friends at Jabula.

Marigold looked over the fence to see where her baby was. The little one was lying in the bush a distance away.

We assumed she died from an infection or worse. We could only imagine. This morning, the three piglets we easily recognized appeared without her. They are only two months old, and we’re hoping they can survive without their mother’s milk. We will be feeding them lots of pellets, fruit, and vegetables. About a month ago, we lost a little piglet, Hoppy, whose mom and two siblings stop by daily. She appeared to have a broken leg and finally gave up. We recall the day she passed.

Life is hard in the bush. In some cases, animals dart out in front of cars, and it’s impossible to avoid hitting them. We know this is nature, and these things happen, but it doesn’t lessen the emotions we feel when we see an animal has passed, whether it be from old age, a predator, an injury, starvation, an illness, or being killed by a careless driver on the road. That’s why driving slowly is vital while paying attention to the surroundings.

Although many animals haven’t visited during the busy holiday season, several impalas still stopped by to graze and beg for pellets.

A few days ago, on the one paved road in Marloth Park, we noticed a line of cars backed up, bringing traffic to a stop. Once the vehicles began to move again, we noticed a turtle had crossed the road. Fortunately, all drivers observed the precious animal crossing the road and stopped to let it pass. A smile came across our faces; grateful everyone had stopped. Many visitors care about the wildlife, as many people living and staying here do.

Today at 5:00 pm, 1700 hrs. (during lock shedding), we’re heading to Jabula to have dinner with four people we’ve never met, readers of our site. Regular reader Lisa has been in touch over the past few years, mentioning, based on our enthusiastic posts, that she and three others were coming here. We’re looking forward to meeting them and hearing about their worldwide travels.

We’ll report the details of our evening out with new readers/friends tomorrow. It’s always wonderful to meet our readers, wherever we may be in the world.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, January 3, 2022:

Not our photo. Due to the poor WiFi connection, our year-ago images aren’t visible today. We’d posted a story on this date in 2022 about the passing of Fluffy, the lone male lion living in Lionspruit, the game reserve within Marloth Park. Fluffy was enjoying quiet time with his mate and companion, Dezi, who has also since passed away. For our story, please click here.

One week from today and we’re off to Seychelles…Another horrible animal injury…Enough, already!!!..

This is Bad Leg who had a leg injury a few weeks ago. In no time, he seemed to recover, and now, he showed up with this hole in his head. How in the world will he recover from this injury?

This morning, I awoke with my left eye really swollen, and itchy, the same side of my face where the headache and cheek pain is located. Unable to see Dr. Theo today, I decided to go to the local Marloth Park clinic and see Dr. Shane, a highly regarded doctor, also loved by many locals.

I guess I don’t have trigeminal neuralgia for which I am on a drug to help with the head pain. Instead, it appears I have chronic sinusitis precipitated by Omicron in April. Lately, I’ve been treated for a sinus infection which did resolve, but I am still left with inflammation in the sinus cavities on the left side of my head only.

Dr. Shane prescribed medication that should resolve this issue once and for all, with a strict regime of treatment I must follow at home, and continue on our upcoming trip in one week. I’m glad I got this addressed today rather than taking the risk it would worsen while we are away.

We spotted these two Cape buffalos this morning as we drove along the river. With all the rain and plenty of water holes, less wildlife head to the river. However, Cape buffalos and waterbucks always remain close to the river.

I will strictly adhere to the nasal treatments (three different procedures) each day, along with the meds and hopefully can get off the Amitriptyline before we leave next Thursday. This will require as many daily procedures as Tom needed when he had Covid-19 pneumonia in April, whereby every few hours there was something to take or do. I am highly motivated to get this never-ending discomfort under control.

After we returned to the house, Tom immediately took off for Komatipoort to pick up the prescriptions so I could begin the procedures and meds today, rather than wait another day until they could be delivered here to Marloth Park. Each day is important as the countdown to depart begins.

Last night, we had a lovely evening with Mario and Peter who joined us for sundowners on the veranda. It was a warm evening but fortunately, the humidity was low and the insects weren’t too bad allowing us to sit outdoors well after dark.  Before we knew it, they headed to their home in the bush and after we cleaned up the food and glasses, we were off to bed to stream a show and later drift off to sleep.

As we drove along the river we spotted these two Big Daddies resting in the shade on another hot day.

As I write here now, Norman is in the garden eating a few bananas, carrots, cabbage leaves, and of course, a few batches of pellets. I hadn’t seen him in two days which was unusual for him but this morning when Tom got outside by 6:30, he was waiting for him. Tom fed him some bananas and pellets. I was disappointed I didn’t see him then when I didn’t get up until 7:30.

I noticed Norman wasn’t eating pellets but was staring at me. There was something else he was looking for. I grabbed a few more overripe bananas from the kitchen and tossed them to him. in a second he was happily eating his favorite food. Bananas ripen quickly in the heat and humidity so we are happy to share them with the wildlife to keep the annoying flies out of the kitchen.

We purchased boxes of 12 bananas but after Tom eats a few over a few days, he’s had his fill and Norman will gladly eat the rest. They never go to waste, as is the case with any vegetables we buy.  Since I don’t eat fruit, and Tom only cares for bananas, we never buy fruit, only non-starchy vegetables, most of which the wildlife seem to enjoy.

We are thrilled with all the green vegetation for the animals, which sometimes makes them hard to spot.

Just now, after tossing some leftover zucchini to Norman, which he doesn’t love, I saw that mom and four piglets had arrived. Immediately, I jumped up to get them pellets. Even the piglets have started eating pellets. They chew each pellet for what seems like several minutes but immediately go back for more. They are delightful to watch.

At this point, we have no less than four sets of moms and piglets stopping by daily, including Hoppy and her family and of course, sadly, the mom with the awful injury and her babies who have been here a few times in the past several days. See this post here for photos of her horrific injury. We are devastated for her and this life-threatening injury.

That’s it for today, folks. We hope you have a fantastic day!

Be well.

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

Little rested in the cement pond on a sweltering day, his ears flicking as he listened to me talking to him. We miss Little. He’s never found us here over 2 km away from our last location. For more, please click here.

Another horrifying and heartbreaking animal injury in the bush…See below for photos, adults only, please…Could it have been a lion attack?…

Two moms and seven piglets stopped by this morning, and we couldn’t believe the injury on one of the moms, as shown in the photos below.

With all the wonders of the bush, we will inevitably witness horrific injuries inflicted upon wildlife by other wildlife and, sometimes inadvertently, by humans driving too fast on the roads. When feeding this and another mom this morning with their combined seven piglets, our jaws dropped when we spotted this horrific injury on one of the moms.

It may be why she joined up with another mom with piglets since she may know she won’t last long with this severe injury. This morning I messaged Ranger Jaco, sending him the photos, and he agreed this injury was from a leopard or lion.

Did a lion or leopard do this? We’ve never seen such an injury from a horned or tusks animal in the past.

Warthogs are not necessarily territorial but live in groups in a home range, called sounders, and may or may not be together at certain times. Males mainly live alone but may hang out together from time to time, but not in the female sounders and only with females during the mating season. We’ve often seen moms and piglets together and later aunts, nieces, and sisters. We have witnessed all of this.

Jaco also stated that although warthogs are sturdy and often recover from serious injuries, it’s unlikely that flies will eat away the dying flesh from this type of injury. Eventually, she’ll become septic and die.

Two things come to mind for us after this sighting. One, will she die nearby since we’ve seen her and her piglets several times since they were born a few weeks ago? Two, is the lion or leopard that inflicted this severe injury hunting nearby in our area?

At first, we were excited to see the two moms with seven piglets between them. We tossed lots of pellets and carrots.

We will be extra diligent in the future. Many have seen lions and leopards during the day and their usual evening hunting time. People walking and biking must be extra careful, knowing an attack is possible if getting too close. Often, unknowing tourists will go to inspect a “kill” only to put themselves in danger. What if the lion or leopard returns to eat the remainder of their kill?

I had a busy morning getting food prepared for tonight’s sundowner gathering. There will only be four of us since one of our guests had a family emergency out of town. It’s a scorching day, so I made a point of making easy snacks that won’t require any fussing when the power goes out for load shedding at 5:00 pm, 1700 hrs, for at least two hours.

The seven piglets all looked healthy and active.

Right now, as I write, the temperature is 97F, 36C, but the humidity is only 29% with a dew point of 59, much more bearable than it has been for several days this past week, with tomorrow about the same. Saturday and Sunday, we’ll be looking at temps over 100F, 38C, and 103F, 39, respectively, with higher humidity and dew point than today.

I’m glad we planned tonight’s little gathering today rather than over the weekend. We’ll be back at Jabula on Friday and Saturday, but according to the load-shedding schedule, they should have power while we’re there. There’s aircon in the bar, which makes it quite comfortable during hot periods.

This poor mom. Her hind end is horribly injured. This could have occurred while she was attempting to protect her piglets. She must be in terrible pain. We fed her lots of pellets and fresh vegetables this morning.

Tom just took a short nap since he didn’t sleep much last night. Soon, I will join him for a bit of a rest while the fan is on. We don’t use the bedroom’s aircon during daytime hours, saving it for sleeping, which is more important to both of us.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, November 16, 2021:

Medium Daddy and his girls. For more photos, please click here.

Was lucerne a hit on a holiday weekend?…Funny photo of appreciative animal…

Last night’s photo, taken in the dark from a distance, of Bad Ear resting in the remaining pile of lucerne. Later, his eyes were closed, and he was asleep.

Yesterday morning, after the bale of lucerne was delivered, we didn’t see any wildlife for quite a while. Finally, they started drifting in, one by one; wildebeests, Earl and Bad Ear (who ate the most); warthogs, Busybody, Lollie, Rueben, and pesky Trouble; bushbuck Marigold, Tulip, and Lilac, and a variety of impala, all of whom we call Chevy (there’s too many of them to name).

Last night, some activity was around the bale, but wildebeest Bad Ear laid right on top of it, as shown in today’s main photo. We couldn’t stop laughing after he claimed the entire balance of the lucerne. We took the main photo, and the trail cam picked up the other.

Two young kudus were nursing by one mom. It’s rare for kudus to have twins.

Today is a cooler day, and it feels especially good to be outdoors on a cloudy day. Load shedding ended this morning at 9:00 am, so I took my time getting up. With the increased dose of the medication for my headache starting two days ago, which makes me sleepy day and night, I somehow managed to sleep through the night and was still groggy when I started moving around.

The pain from the Covid-19 headache I’ve had since April tends to come and go right now instead of being constant. Doc Theo ordered a new prescription for me for 35 mg as opposed to the 25 mg I had been taking for two weeks when I reported the headache was still there. But, every few days, I experience relief for several hours, during which I hope it won’t return.

A giraffe visited our garden this morning.

Alas, several hours later, it returns. I can’t pinpoint what causes it to return. It’s not as if I am doing anything to precipitate it. This morning, after that long sleep, I awoke with it, but now a few hours later, I am pain-free for who-know-how-long? When it’s gone, I find myself having a little more energy and using the time to complete tasks around the house. I can’t wait for it to be gone.

Four Big Daddy kudus just arrived and are enjoying the remnants of the lucerne. Also, we had some potatoes left from our friend’s visit, and they are finishing those off. Vegetables are a safe food for the wildlife since many frequently dig up roots for sustenance when the trees are bare during these dry months.

Bad Ear was still sleeping on the lucerne this morning.

We’re staying in today, enjoying quiet time in the bush when fewer vehicles are driving on our dirt road. Many holidaymakers go to Kruger National Park on the weekends. During busy times, they must make an appointment to enter the park. We don’t care to go when an appointment is required.

If that many visitors are in the park, too many vehicles are gathered near a sighting, often too many for us to even take a single photo. We will return when this current holiday period ends in a week. Nor do we care to drive to Two Trees to search for wildlife on the river. We couldn’t find a place to park the last time we headed that way.

When Bad Ear left, Norman stopped by the lucerne this morning.

Sometimes, we worry that the magic of this special place will fade away as more and more houses are built. As more ground surface is covered by homes, driveways, and fenced gardens, there is less and less natural habitat for the wildlife to eat. We see this fact when we drive around and see so many houses being built. In time, the animals could be gone, mainly from dying of starvation. It’s an awful thought.

Many say that regular culling is a solution. But doesn’t that defeat this magical place’s entire value and purpose? There’s no easy answer. There are many sides to this perplexing situation, all valid to one degree or another.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, October 2, 2021:

No photo was posted one year ago today.

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.

Drones overhead scaring the animals…Not many visitors now…

Lilac was taking a nap in the garden while mom Tulip grazed nearby.

The only reason we can think of why only a few animals are visiting us this week is the following notice that was posted on Facebook a few days ago:

Dear Property Owners
Please be advised that a Drone Mapping Operation will take place in and around Marloth Park from 08h00-15h00 on Tuesday, 30 August, until Friday, 2 September, to assist us in opposing the mine threat. All permissions and legal compliance have been obtained. The two pilots will be clearly visible with yellow high viz jackets and will make every effort possible to limit the time over properties while doing the grid flights. Please note that all security has been notified, along with all relevant authorities of the operation. Please do your part by showing caution and respect to the pilots during the day while the operation is taking place to allow them to do the task on hand as quick as possible. Thank you for your support 🙏
Bossy was eating birdseed off the bushbaby stand. Kudus will eat anything. But we only give them fruit, vegetables, and pellets.
A mining company has been trying to gain approval for mining in this area, not specifically in Marloth Park, but nearby. I don’t know much about it, so I dare not write much, but whatever is happening has kept many animals away from our house since Monday.
After returning on Saturday and seeing a few of our favorites, on Saturday and Sunday, it’s been so sparse that it feels as if it’s a holiday and the park is filled with tourists, keeping the wildlife away as usual. Hopefully, once this dreadful task is completed, the wildlife will return to our garden.
Kudus are drinking from the pool.
We’ve seen a few impalas, a few warthogs, including Lollie, and a lone zebra who yipped loudly when he finished eating pellets in an attempt to find the rest of his pals. Seconds later, we heard a return yip, and he dashed off on a dead run. This morning bushbucks, Tulip and her daughter Lilac, and Jasmine and her son Johnny stopped by for lettuce tops and pellets. But the sound of the drones sent them off in a frenzy.
Now, mid-morning there isn’t a single animal in the garden other than a few birds and two Vervet monkeys eating the birdseed Tom put on the trolley and bushbaby stand. With his orange squirt bottle filled with plain water, he squirted them away. We keep the doors to the veranda open all day unless we are both inside, at which point we close and lock the double doors to keep the monkeys and baboons out along with any possible burglars nearby.
Norman visited within hours of our return from our trip.
We often hear of burglaries occurring at night, but they also can happen during the day when residents keep their digital equipment on their outdoor table while they venture indoors for a few minutes. They return, three or four minutes later, to find their equipment gone.
This morning on a perfect weather day, I am doing laundry using our new washing machine. It is a pleasure to have the clothes come out clean and well-spun, making them dry more quickly than the old dysfunctional washer. Since I enjoy doing laundry, this new washer has made doing laundry easier than ever. Today’s gorgeous sunny weather won’t take long for the laundry to dry.
Nina and Noah weren’t far behind.
Ah, the simple things in life can give us so much joy. We always giggle over how the most simple scenarios can make us both smile. Last night’s dinner was a perfect example, but before that, we talked on (free) Facebook Messenger with our friends Linda and Ken in the UK. In the next 24 hours, we’ll talk to friends Kathy and Don on Whatsapp (again free) living in Hawaii. Modern technology has enabled us to stay in close touch with family and friends.
Today is a quiet day. Besides a few household tasks and cooking another great dinner, we are content. Tom is listening to podcasts on his laptop. I’ve already paid the bills for September, completed my part of the taxes for the accountant, and recorded our expenses from the recent trip. For the first time in a while, I don’t have any “paperwork-type” tasks hanging over my head.
May you have a stress-free Thursday!

Photo from one year ago today, September 1, 2021:

This photo was taken from the veranda at Buckler’s Africa Restaurant with several waterbucks in the Crocodile River. For more photos, please click here.

Sunset cruise on the Chobe River…A huge hit with animals and people…

Our favorite mom and baby elephant photo was taken while cruising on the Chobe River.

When a driver picked us up yesterday to take us to a resort down the road, we were a little surprised we’d be boarding a boat on the Chobe River from Chobe Marina Lodge, not Chobe Safari Lodge, where we were staying. The three-minute drive down the road and the 30-minute wait to board the boat were no big deal.

Male Cape buffalos heading to the water from an island in the Chobe River.

We were seated at a table for four on the pontoon-style boat in no time, ready to embark and begin the sunset cruise lasting three hours. As soon as we sat down, we were seated across the table with a lovely couple, younger than our adult children from Milan, Italy. Andrea and Jenny spoke good English, and we chatted endlessly, later meeting up for dinner at the restaurant up the hill from our resort.

Two fishermen on a small boat on the river.

Unfortunately, the photo I took of the two of them ended up being obstructed by a person walking by, and I could not post it, much to my disappointment. I should have checked the camera, but I caught up in the lively conversation with this adorable and intelligent Italian couple and failed to see if the photo came out. It was an oddity that this happened.

Waterbucks and a few Egyptian geese were foraging on the island.

We enjoyed the time spent on the boat with them and later for dinner up the hill. While on the boat, we met another couple, who were friends, and the man, Dwight, lives in the suburbs in Minnesota, leaving us with endless stories to share, especially with Tom, a native of Minnesota. Christie was from Denver. It was also fun talking to Americans whom we seldom meet in this part of the world.

Seeing the elephants on the island in the Chobe River was such a joy.

The three hours passed quickly, and before we knew it, we returned to our resort to meet up with Andrea and Jenny later. We shared a delightful day and evening while taking many beautiful photos, some of which we’re sharing here today. Many more will follow in days to come. We haven’t put a dent in the pictures worthy of posting but have plenty of time to do so in the days and weeks to follow.

Two young male elephants were practicing sparing.

This morning, we had a nice breakfast in the resort’s restaurant buffet. We never had dinner at the buffet since there were few foods suitable for my way of eating. In our last post for this trip, we’ll share food photos and final expenses for our one week away from Marloth Park.

A blue heron…

As always, we’re a little tentative about getting another 90-day visa stamp when we return to South Africa in two days and go through immigration. If we are turned down, we’ll have to devise a plan which, of course, if that happens, we’ll share here. Each time we get another 90 days, we sigh with relief. The law is vague in this regard…are we required to return to our home country each time? The answer isn’t clear. We’ll see how it goes one more time.

An ibis…

In a little over an hour, our trusty Chris from Chris Tours will arrive at this resort, who will drive us back to the border between Botswana and Zambia, and then take us to the Protea Hotel by Marriott we’ve stayed many times in the past. It’s a pleasant hotel, with good breakfast included,  lovely rooms with comfy beds, and free WiFi.

A crocodile lounged on the grass on an island in the Chobe River.

We will check into our ground floor room, unpack a little, and within a few hours, be heading out to the Zambezi River for another sunset cruise, this time on the Lion King boat with live entertainment. This will be our second time on this boat. We enjoyed the scenery, the included drinks and snacks, and the African music last time and looked forward to this repeated event.

Elephants are excellent swimmers, using their trunks as a snorkel. Cool, eh?

When the boat ride has ended, Chris or his staff will pick up up to take us to the Royal Livingstone Hotel, where we will dine tonight and again tomorrow night, overlooking the Zambezi River. We’ve embarked on quite a few adventures this time, more than in the past, and have had nothing but great experiences.

We couldn’t take our eyes off the swimming elephants.

Saturday afternoon, after a late checkout, Chris will transport us to the Harry Mwanga Nkumbula Livingstone Airport for our short flight (less than two hours) back to Nelspruit. At that point, we’ll go through immigration and see how it rolls out again. After getting a great rate at the US $15, ZAR 253 a day, we’ll collect the rental car at Budget and make the hour-plus drive back to Marloth Park.

The water was shallow in this spot, and he could stand up and walk the rest of the way.

By 5:30 pm, 1730 hrs., we should be back at our holiday home in Marloth Park to decide if we’ll dine in on frozen leftovers or head to Jabula for dinner. We’ll play that by ear, providing all goes well with our return.

Playful elephants.

Yesterday, I attempted to process the ZAR 196, US $11.64 customs fees due on our UPS package from the US. For some odd reason, UPS’s system wouldn’t accept an international credit card, like all of ours. Only South African credit cards can be used. Louise was so kind to help, using her card, which we’ll reimburse when we see her next. All went through Ok, and we should receive the package sometime next week.

Sunset on the Chobe River.

We are packed and ready to leave in about 40 minutes, so I’d better wrap this up and get it uploaded so I won’t have to rush later this afternoon when we have plans.

Be well.

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

This is my new toy, a JBL Bluetooth speaker that works with voice activation from our phones or laptops. The sound is fantastic! We use this every day! For more details, please click here.