Meet Ruffles, an adorable female kudu…A fitful night with weird circumstances…

The female kudu facing the camera is Ruffles since her ears are ruffly, unlike the other kudus.

The days seem to pass quickly lately, but the nights sometimes drag on. Last night was one of those nights for me. I awoke at 2:00 am itching from mozzie and chigger bites. I got up and put on some numbing cream, the only product that seems to help me sleep when itchy.

After leaving the bathroom after applying the cream, I crawled back into bed, hoping I wouldn’t wake Tom. He stirred but seemed sound asleep, with a soft snore passing through his lips, which never bothered me. Wide awake after getting back into bed, I plugged my wired earpiece into my right ear so I could comfortably lay on my left side, figuring I’d watch an episode of Naked and Afraid to lull me back to sleep. With the earpiece plugged into the phone, Tom doesn’t hear the show.

Watching a show on my phone always helps me fall back to sleep. But, often, the show continues to play, wearing down the battery. If I awake a few hours later and can’t go back to sleep, my phone may be dead. There’s a power cord next to the bed, but it’s very short, and I have to lay close to the edge of the bed to have it charge while I am using it.

Our Big Daddy regularly stops to enjoy some pellets.

There’s a shortage of outlets in houses in Africa with no particular building and zoning laws requiring an outlet every so-many meters. As a result, charging our laptops and phones is sometimes challenging, and we have to share certain outlets with multiple pieces of equipment.

Sitting at the dining room table, there is nowhere to plug in my laptop (with an adapter and converter). I can plug my phone into my computer, but that drains the laptop’s battery more quickly. The only place in the house to plug in my laptop is next to my side of the bed, with a tangled mass of cords on the floor that I have to navigate every time I get up to avoid tripping.

So, anyway, last night, when I got back into bed planning to watch the show, my phone had gone into some peculiar “talk-back” mode. I could not manipulate any apps on the phone, let alone get into “settings” to figure out how this happened. After playing around with the phone for about 30 minutes, I decided the only way I could figure this out was to load my laptop and look up instructions to stop this weird feature.

Big Daddy is enormous,

When I got out of bed, I likely hit something on the phone that triggered the “talk-back” feature. I didn’t want to awaken Tom; I was cautious the screen wouldn’t be in his eyes. Luckily, he was facing the opposite way, and I was able to load the laptop.

In only a matter of 60 seconds, I found instructions on how to disable “talk back.” It was to double press both sides of the volume button on the right side of the phone, below the start button. It worked immediately. Of course, during the entire time I tried to resolve this situation, I kept the phone charging on the short cord, or else I may have had a dead battery by the time the issue was resolved.

Finally, the phone was charged sufficiently, and I could load Express VPN and then the Discovery app to bring up the show, Naked and Afraid, and I rolled over onto my left side to watch the show. Within minutes, I was back to sleep to find the show had automatically moved through two more episodes while I slept until 7:30 am, overall getting enough total sleep to feel OK. Next time I watch the show, I’ll return to where I left off when I fell asleep.

Again, Big Daddy and Norman face-off, but both stay calm.

Sure, I’d love to be one of those people who fall asleep after their head hits the pillow and then proceed to sleep through the night. That’s never been me. But, overall, I get enough sleep, usually seven to eight hours each night. My Fitbit seems pretty accurate in logging how much sleep I get each night and the quality of that sleep.

Today, we’re staying in and again cooking on the braai with pork chops for Tom, a lamb chop for me, rice for Tom, and salad for both of us. The weather is tolerable, humid but not too hot, but certainly, we’ll enjoy a lovely afternoon and evening with the wildlife and perhaps sundowners on the veranda.

Tomorrow, we’re off to Komatipoort for our appointments with Doc Theo, a trip to the pharmacy and grocery shop, and, if time allows, lunch at Stoep Cafe. Also, tomorrow evening, we’re off to Jabula for more fun at the bar and restaurant. It will be nice to get out.

Be well.

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

We always had a reason to celebrate. Here is Don (Kathy and Don) and Rita (Rita and Gerhard) at Jabula celebrating our friendships. For more photos, please click here.

Antelope altercation in the garden…The worms have turned into moths…They are everywhere…

Big Daddy and Norman engage in a dominance dance in the garden.

Antelopes are prevalent in Marloth Park. They include, based on size: kudu, nyala, impalas, bushbucks, and duikers. It’s a rare occasion to witness disharmony among these animals, other than pushing and shoving when jockeying for pellets, even common among family members of the same species.

It’s been a rarity for us to see fighting among the various species of antelopes when they visit the garden. However, since Norman has become such a regular here, we’ve noticed that he gets defensive when there are the Big Daddy kudus in the garden, whether close to the house or at a distance of fewer than 30 meters, which is, by his standards, too close for comfort.

As we’ve shown in past photos, Norman fluffs up his hair to make himself appear larger and hangs his head low. We aren’t sure if dropping down his head is to add to appearing larger or if it is a form of submission. Most would assume, by watching him, that its submission.

From time to time, they slowly move around the garden.

The massive Big Daddies respond to Norman’s sign of courage and strength. They certainly don’t run off frightened by Norman, but they recoil to a certain degree. If it was submission, it would be counterintuitive to appear larger, to make the male kudu with massive horns become frightened of him.

In any case, it’s interesting to observe. Of course, we’re a little concerned they could engage in a fight which would be disastrous, and there would be nothing we could do to stop it. In some instances, in the wild, these animals have fought to the death when protecting their territory, food source, or females and family members, although from what we’ve read, it’s very rare.

Norman with his head down during his “fluffing up” session.

As gentle animals, they aren’t explicitly looking for a fight. We proceed with caution when offering food when the other is nearby to avoid the remote possibility of an altercation.

Today, Tom observed these scenes shown in the photos while I was showering. A short time later, when I came out of the bedroom, they were both still in the garden, doing their dance of dominance, Norman more than Big Daddy.

It’s always interesting to watch the behavior of the wildlife in Marloth Park. Spending most of our daylight hours outdoors, it’s inevitable we’d often see how wildlife interact with one another. The most aggressive animals we’ve observed are warthogs who will fight with any other animal over food, territory, or mating rights.  The next most often we’ve seen is zebras among themselves when vying for pellets. They will kick and bite one another to get the next morsel into their mouths.

He doesn’t respond to my voice when he is in this position.

That awful invasion of slimy black worms continued for several weeks but ended about a week ago. The older worms have morphed into annoying giant black moths, flying around inside the house and the veranda. There is no way to escape them, although they are bothersome but harmless.

All we can do is keep the exterior doors open, hoping none will get into the bedroom (we keep that door closed at all times). If we shut the exterior doors, the house’s interior gets too hot, and there’s no aircon unit on the main floor other than in the bedroom. In time, these moths will disappear, and then some other annoying insect will take over. After all, TIA, “This is Africa,” and that’s what happens here.

Be well.

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

Bossy’s baby suckles while another female looks for pellets. For more photos, please click here.

Let sleeping kudus lie…Dazzle of zebras came to call…Easy life…

Big Daddy was napping in the garden.

As we sit here enjoying views of the massive garden surrounding our holiday home on this slightly cooler and less humid Tuesday morning, we are reminded of the leisurely pace of our day-to-day lives. We love these times of low stress and less paperwork consuming our time.

Sure, there’s always work we could tackle, but right now, we’re both reveling in this quiet time back together in the bush and freeing ourselves from obligation and planning. In the next few weeks, we’ll have to ramp it up and start planning where we’ll go when we leave South Africa on June 8.

We think it will make sense to spend at least a month in an African country that we may not visit in the future since it borders South Africa, and when staying in this country, we can’t get our visas stamped for another 90-day stay in any country nearby.

He was nodding off before he finally succumbed to sleep.

Our first cruise sails out of Edinburgh, Scotland, on August 1. Since the UK is so expensive, spending from June 8 to August 1 in Scotland may not make sense. If we spend another month on the African continent in a country we haven’t visited, we’ll save money while enjoying a new country, going on unique safaris, and immersing ourselves in yet another culture. It seems like a logical plan for us.

When the month is over, we can then head to Scotland, where we’ll spend about three weeks reveling in the wonders of that beautiful country that we’ve never visited in the past. We always love trying new locations when we have already seen so much of the world in the past ten-plus years.

Sure, each day, we conduct a little research to decide in a few weeks. With a decision, it will make the pinning down of plans easier and less time-consuming. Some African countries don’t have many holiday homes suitable for our needs, and we may have to consider staying in a resort or hotel, which is OK for us after we’ve recovered from our ten months in a hotel in lockdown in India.

Zebra butts while dining on pellets. Check out the face on the second from the left!

At the time, we may have said we never wanted to stay in a hotel other than for a few nights. But, as time marches on, we’ve let that go and know that on some occasions, we may need to stay in a hotel or a resort, which we now fully accept as a possibility.

We can easily stay in a hotel suite where we may have a refrigerator, even if it’s small. Also, we prefer to stay in hotels and resorts that include breakfast, reducing our cost of dining. Also, the prices for many holiday homes have doubled since the pandemic and become less affordable when many hotels have had fewer increases.

Since we still only eat two meals a day, in the case of included breakfast, our only dining expense is for dinner and a drink, if desired. When staying in hotels in Minnesota and Nevada, we seldom had a drink with dinner, not because we were being frugal but more so because neither of us needs to drink alcohol every time we go out. For us, it’s more about a social scene.

This zebra kept watch while the other nine zebras ate pellets.

Tonight, we’re finishing our stir-fry dinners. Tomorrow, we’ll make something to last for two nights, and then it’s time for Jabula again. Friday night, we’ll go on our own as usual. On Saturday night, Louise and Danie are joining us to finally catch up after Tom’s return. We always have plenty of catch-ups to do with this lovely couple.

Have a fantastic Tuesday, and be well.

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

A mom and baby mongoose sucking contents from an egg. For more photos, please click here.

Update on headache and face pain…Hopeful…

A Medium Daddy is sniffing and approaching a female kudu.

For a while, a few weeks or so, my headache improved tremendously. When it flared up, I took a medication Doc Theo had prescribed that contained cortisone but was instructed to use it sparingly due to potential side effects. If I could have taken it daily, I’d have been headache and facial pain-free. But I’ve only used it a few times for two consecutive days, enjoying the relief by the second day.

It wasn’t until I started taking a non-prescription antihistamine that he suggested, Fexo 18, fexofenadine, for the past week that I began to notice a good improvement in the symptoms. I never thought it was a brain issue. I am convinced it is an allergy problem and nothing more serious requiring specialists or brain scans.

This Big Daddy has been visiting us each day.

It seems the symptoms are worsened with more humid weather, but also consider the following:

“In spring and summer, during tree and grass pollen season, levels are highest in the evening. In late summer and early fall, levels are highest in the morning during the ragweed pollen season. Take a shower, wash your hair, and change your clothes after working or playing outdoors.”

Covid 19 symptoms vary from person to person. When we both got Omicron on a cruise ship last April, the first symptoms I experienced, besides the sore throat, were a headache over my left eyebrow and pain when touching my left cheek. These symptoms, overall, have continued since that time to one degree or another. I’ve been treated for sinus infections and would have relief for a few weeks, and then it would start up again.

Early on, I was treated for trigeminal neuralgia, which made some sense. But the excessive sneezing and runny nose didn’t coincide with that diagnosis. Plus, the medication for that condition made me sleepy and sluggish during the day and caused me to gain weight, a typical side effect of that drug. I stopped taking it a month later, and the headache and face pain returned.

He loves his pellets.

Then, off and on over the past several months, I’ve had short periods with less pain in my head and intermittent face pain. At this point, I’ve been pain-free for the past four days since I started taking the strong antihistamine a week ago. The sneezing and runny nose are less; the headache is 90% gone, and the facial pain. Perhaps, this is actually under control with this over-the-counter medication.

Years ago, when I was allergy tested, dust, dust mites, ragweed, and grass pollen were the allergens to which I responded the most. Right now, ragweed is at its highest level in the fall here in the Southern Hemisphere. There’s more dust and pollen here in the bush than anywhere we’ve ever been. Imagine the dust the animals kick up every day which enters the house. and no amount of hand dusting can eliminate it.

When we were in Minnesota in November and December, the headache almost disappeared after the first few days with snow on the ground. But, in our old lives, I experienced many symptoms in Minnesota during the summer months due to these same allergens.

Such a good-looking animal.

So now, I wait and see if the headache and face pain continue to improve. If so, there won’t be anything I need to do in the future other than continue taking this particular antihistamine when returning to South Africa next year. We’ll see how it goes.

On Friday, we’re both going to see Doc Theo. Tom would like the peace of mind of having an ultrasound called an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening test because several male family members have died or experienced this condition requiring treatment. Doc Theo will arrange for the test for Tom, which requires that we travel to Nelspruit, most likely to Mediclinci, where I had heart surgery.

Also, I am overdue for a heart scan and plan to do it on the same day as Tom’s test. Hopefully, all will be fine for both of us. We’ll report back what we discover.

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

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

Bossy arrived with three young calves. She was on babysitting duty. This is her male calf. For more photos, please click here.

A quiet Sunday in the bush…Hot, not so humid…Plenty of visitors for a weekend…

An interesting leaf-like insect was spotted on the veranda and stayed by my foot for about an hour. I researched every leaf-like insect and couldn’t find the species. Any ideas?

This morning, I took my time getting out of bed. My mind was full of thoughts about the future we’d yet to book. We’ve felt somewhat on hold until we receive notification that my visa has been extended to June 8, the day we plan to leave South Africa. As mentioned earlier by Tom traveling to the US a few weeks ago, he received a new 90-day visa. The process of applying for an extension for him becomes a moot point.

A mating pair of doves often hang around, hoping other birds drop seeds from the above bird feeder on a trolley.

At that point, we’ll begin a year away from the bush with plenty of plans in the works. We’re going to return in June or July 2024 when a short time later, daughter Tammy and family will travel here to spend time with us. They are quite the adventurers and will spend many days on a wide variety of activities. They’ll love everything South Africa has to offer.

Medium daddy drinking from the pool.

Most likely, we’ll return to this same house. It has two guest houses on the property that will serve our visitors well, providing privacy and convenience. Plus, it will be fun to return and see our favorite animals return to see us. Hopefully, a year later, they will remember us, our generous offerings, and my annoying high-pitched voice.

A gecko is looking out through the air vent hole in the outdoor heater.

Today, I am making two stir-fry dishes; beef tenderloin, mushroom, and broccoli for Tom; and prawns with bell peppers, zucchini, onions, and broccoli for me, all topped with a handful of peanuts. Tom will have his dinner on a bed of white rice while mine will top cooked shredded cabbage. We won’t have a salad with these intense vegetable meals.

Jasmine and her son, Little Johnny.

As always, I am making enough to last for two or three dinners, so I didn’t mind taking the time to wash and prepare all the fresh vegetables, placing them in big ziplock bags until it is time to cook the dishes. The leftovers will keep well in the refrigerator, which is easy to reheat quickly on the stovetop or in the microwave, as preferred, neither of which is impacted by load shedding.

Hal didn’t stop for pellets. He was content munching on the lush green grass.

They still tasted as good as they did the first night. It’s excellent cooking this way, always making enough to last for at least two nights, sometimes three. I like that for the next few nights; I don’t have to cook at all, other than reheat our leftovers. Then, on the other days, I can busy myself with other tasks on the agenda with our never-ending stream of research and paperwork.

Tom ordered this salad, but I ended up eating it without dressing, which it doesn’t need.

On another hot day, I am sitting at the dining room table with two fans blowing on me, the overhead fan and the portable fan only a few feet from me. The fans seem to help to keep the mozzies from landing on me. Right now, I have lots of itchy bites after all the rain we’ve had. I have to keep reapplying repellent when it seems to come off when my arms touch the table while I am typing.

My dish consisted of grilled chicken breast, steamed spinach, cabbage, and green beans.

We had another good night at Jabula last night when the bar filled up with tourists and locals. As usual, our dinners were terrific, as shown in the photos above and below. The meals are simple, but they taste better than you can imagine.

Tom poured the little cup of gravy into the hole he’d made in the center of his mashed potatoes.

The three-week holiday begins at the end of this week and ends after Easter on April 9. It will be busy here in the bush, and we don’t expect to see many animals during this period. But we will see plenty of cars on Olifant Road, the main paved road in MP, many exceeding the 50 km (31 miles) speed limit. It’s always heartbreaking to hear about animals killed on the road due to speeding and careless driving.

Tom is busy at the table on the veranda, as he often is, doing his usual online activities, totally at peace and content. It’s such a joy for me to look outside and see him there. His ten days away are quickly becoming a distant memory as we’ve easily settled back into a harmonious, pleasant, and playful life in the bush. We never forget for a day how fortunate we are to have each other and this amazing life we live.

Be well.

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

What a handsome animal!!! For more photos, please click here.

A mass impacting travel in some parts of the world…

Not our photo. Only a tiny portion of the 5000-mile-wide (8047 km) seaweed mass is washing up on beaches. Sargassum is not a new problem. But the mass of floating seaweed in the Atlantic Ocean is getting bigger, according to scientists. Andre Seale / VW PICS / Universal Images Group via Getty ImagesFor locations,

It’s important for us to pay attention to what’s happening in the world that may have an impact on travel. This morning, while listening to Garage Logic podcast episodes that we missed while Tom was in the US. We’re quickly catching up by listening to two podcasts a day, usually in the morning, while I prepare the posts.

It’s great listening to podcasts in the morning since we don’t have a TV on the main floor and rarely turn it on while in Africa or in other countries, for that matter. We’ve become so used to streaming news and shows. It’s a rare occasion we have any interest in turning on a TV, although we are informed of local and national events with frequent updates that pop up on our laptops.

When this story about the floating mass of seaweed came up today, I thought it was important to share it with our readers who may be considering travel to some of the popular resort areas that may be impacted the most by this anomaly, as described here by Smithsonian Magazine:

“A 5,000-mile-wide blob of brown seaweed is making its way toward North America and could soon wreak havoc on beaches throughout Florida, Mexico, and the Caribbean reports NBC News’ Denise Chow.

The thick raft of seaweed—known as the Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt—is not new, but scientists say it’s especially large now. What’s more, the giant sargassum blanket floating in the Atlantic Ocean appears to be making landfall several months earlier than normal this year, which “doesn’t bode well for a clean beach summer in 2023,” says Brian Lapointe, an ecologist at Florida Atlantic University, to the New York Times’ Livia Albeck-Ripka and Emily Schmall.

Sargassum typically makes landfall in May, then peaks in June and July. But already, the seaweed is starting to pile up on beaches in Florida’s Key West as well as in Mexico’s Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum.

“These blooms are getting bigger and bigger, and this year looks like it’s going to be the biggest year yet on record,” Lapointe tells the Times.

Generally, the sargassum mat bobs harmlessly between West Africa and the Gulf of Mexico. Out in the middle of the Atlantic, it even provides some benefits, such as absorbing carbon dioxide and providing shelter for various marine creatures, including some fish, crustaceans, and sea turtles.

But when the tangle of seaweed washes ashore, it starts to cause problems. It piles up on beaches and begins to rot, releasing toxic hydrogen sulfide into the air. Also known as “sewer gas” or “swamp gas,” the colorless hydrogen sulfide smells like rotten eggs and can cause respiratory and neurological issues in humans.

Person holding up clumps of seaweed in hands
Not our photo. Sargassum provides a habitat for marine wildlife in the ocean and absorbs carbon dioxide.

Sargassum is a big turnoff to tourists, so it can also lead to economic consequences for hotels, restaurants, and other businesses that rely on travelers for their livelihoods. This year, its early arrival adds to the problems of Florida’s Gulf Coast tourism industry, which is already grappling with the harmful effects of a toxic red tide.

“It’s unpleasant,” says Melinda Simmons, a marine scientist at Jacksonville University, to First Coast News’ Robert Speta. “Whether you are swimming or wading in it, it’s going to smell bad. And then people don’t want to come to the beach.”

Beyond that, sargassum can make it challenging for boats to navigate through coastal waters. It can block the intake valves of desalination plants and power plants, which can lead to water shortages and other issues. It can also block light from reaching the plants and animals below the water’s surface and make it difficult for sea turtles to crawl across the sand to their nesting habitats or to the ocean.

Though communities and resorts try to remove as much of the seaweed from the beach as possible, that process is expensive and labor-intensive. And once they remove the sargassum, they then must figure out what to do with it. Sargassum contains heavy metals, including arsenic, that can make it dangerous to compost or use as fertilizer. Entrepreneurs are trying to come up with novel solutions to the sargassum problem—such as sinking it to the bottom of the seafloor or using it for building materials—but have so far struggled to make them commercially viable.

Scientists have been tracking the Atlantic sargassum raft for years. But in 2011, they started to notice that it was ballooning in size annually. The brown blob is now so large that it can be seen from space, and researchers use satellite imagery to keep tabs on it.

They aren’t exactly sure what’s causing the growth, but they suspect that human activities may be at least partly to blame. They’ve noticed that the sargassum mass tends to expand seasonally, around the same time that major rivers like the Congo, the Mississippi, and the Amazon are discharging into the Atlantic. From this pattern, they’ve determined that runoff from fertilizers, deforestation, and biomass burning may be unintentionally feeding the seaweed. Increasing ocean temperatures, which stem from human-caused climate change, may also be contributing.

“I’ve replaced my climate change anxiety with sargassum anxiety,” says Patricia Estridge, co-founder and CEO of Seaweed Generation, a Scotland-based company that aims to use seaweed to remove carbon emissions, to the Guardian’s Zan Barberton.”

This information is entirely new to us, and we anticipated it may be unknown to many of our readers. It may be worthwhile if planning to travel to any of these locations for ocean-related activities to check online to see the status of this mass of seaweed.

Last night, we had a fabulous time at Jabula. Tom was welcomed back with open arms and considerable enthusiasm by our friends. Tonight, as always, we’ll return again for yet another fun evening.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, March 18, 2022:

Zebra’s tails appear braided, but obviously, they are not. For more photos, please click here.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to those who celebrate….

Today is a memorable holiday, primarily celebrated by people of Irish descent, including the following:

“Saint Patrick’s Day is a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador (for provincial government employees), and the British Overseas Territory of Montserrat.”

Although Tom is Irish, I am not, and he doesn’t make much of a fuss about this particular holiday. In our old lives, if it fell on a day that Tom was off work, I would make the traditional corned beef and cabbage dinner which we both enjoyed. Most people would boil the corned beef in water with the vegetables.

I preferred to roast the meat, like a pot roast, covered and slow-cooked in the oven for several hours, along with the vegetables in the pan, cooking in the tasty juices. We found this method much more delicious than the typical “New England Boiled Dinner,” a favorite of some Americans. On occasion, to maintain the Irish tradition, I’d make Irish soda bread, but Tom wasn’t a big fan of the dense bread.

Gosh, my mouth is watering writing about this. At the time, I was still eating carbs (it’s been 12 years since I went keto) and loved the heavy bread, especially when some recipes called for raisins added to the dough. Tom doesn’t eat raisins in anything. I do miss each bread of any type, although I make keto bread which in no way compares to the “real deal.”

Many people celebrating St. Patrick’s Day did so in a bar, possibly drinking green-dyed beer. I’d never developed such a tradition since today is also my eldest son Richard’s birthday.

Today will be a delightful usual Friday for us when around 5:00 pm, 1700 hrs., we’ll arrive at Jabula for yet another Friday evening filled with fun and merriment with Dawn, Leon, David, and countless other locals and holidaymakers who stop by for their enjoyment as well. Tom hasn’t been to Jabula in two weeks, but I was there last weekend, as mentioned, on Friday and Saturday nights. Our friend Sindee drove me both ways, both days. We had a great time together.

This morning we went to the local meat market and loaded up on various types of meat to last us for the next ten days or more. We bought mince, short ribs, lamb neck, chicken breasts, prawns, and bacon. After having that fantastic meal at Louise and Danie’s on Monday and, for the first time, eating lamb neck, I was anxious to buy one of them to cook. Tom doesn’t eat lamb, so he’ll have pork when I make it.

On Sunday, I plan to make two stir-fry dishes, one with prawns and veggies for me and the other a beef and broccoli dish Tom loves topped with salty peanuts and served over a bed of white rice. I will make large enough batches to last for at least two nights’ dinners, as I often do, to keep cooking time to a minimum on hot, humid days.

Right now, we’re beginning to feel the weather changing. It’s not a huge difference, but we’re finding it to be slightly cooler some days with a little less humidity. Today’s dew point is in the 60s, not the 70s, which is way more comfortable.

It’s so wonderful to have Tom back with me. We’re still feeling the magical glow of being back together again. Based on how we are, this feeling will last indefinitely.

Be well.

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

Due to a WiFi issue of some sort of WiFi issue, I cannot load the year-ago photo today. For the post, please click here.

Tom is baaaack!!!How wonderful to be together again!!!…In his words…

Could these three female kudus be any cuter?
There are no words I can use without sounding too syrupy to have my man back in the bush with me. He arrived not much later than we’d anticipated. We hugged warmly, but he wanted to brush his teeth before planting a big smooch on me. He hadn’t had access to his toothbrush and toothpaste since he left the US almost two days earlier. I always carry a travel toothbrush and a little tube of toothpaste, just in case. But Tom hadn’t done this.
He spent a night at the City Lodge Hotel at the Tambo Airport in Johannesburg with nothing but the clothes on his back and a clean pair of underwear. His one piece of luggage was in limbo at the time, causing him some stress after recent events.
Kudus love eating bird seeds off the bird feeder ledge.
Tom had written the following to his kids and siblings when they’d asked him about his return trip:
“When I got to the airport in Minneapolis, I received a text on my phone saying my flight was delayed two hours. Apparently, the plane coming from Denver was delayed getting out of there. I was worried because my layover in Newark, NJ, was only 90 minutes, and I would miss my 16-hour flight from Newark to Johannesburg, South Africa. 
This route is only available two to three times a week. I would have been stuck in Newark until I could get on another 16-hour flight.
Also, I had booked a hotel room at the airport in Johannesburg due to a 14-hour layover to catch my last flight from Johannesburg to Nelspruit, South Africa. If I couldn’t get on this new flight, I would have to pay for the hotel room and not get there in time to use it.
Check out the width between this Big Daddy’s horns.
Quickly, I approached the airline counter, asking what I could do. They told me to go to a  different gate with an earlier flight from Minneapolis to Newark.
When I checked at the next gate (same airline), they said I might have a chance to get on that flight, but I would be on standby and have to wait until all the other booked passengers were on the plane.
I had checked my bag for the first flight, so the gate agent called about it to see if it could be moved from my booked flight to this flight. They told her they would try to get it done.
I’ve never been on a standby list before. I waited about 2½ hours.
While I was waiting there, many others were trying to do the same thing that I had done, get on the standby list I was on. Some of these passengers were getting angry and raising their voices.
After they boarded the plane with booked passengers, I was relieved when they announced that only three seats were available for standby passengers, and I was #2 on the list. When I got to my seat, I heard other passengers talking, saying this particular flight had been delayed; it was scheduled to depart several hours earlier. I was fortunate it was delayed and that I could get on it.
Then I was concerned if my checked bag made this flight. I went to the hotel without my bag, with no toiletries and only a change of underwear I’d put into the computer bag. I didn’t know until I arrived at my final location to find my bag was there. What a relief after what we’d been through recently with lost baggage.

The candy made it without being an issue. I’m happy to be back!”

Adorable Little Johnny contemplating jumping over the fence

Yesterday, we never spent a moment out of each other’s sight. We had a lot of catching up to do, along with an entire afternoon and evening filled with laughter, countless warm interactions, and smiles on our faces. After never being apart in the past over ten years (other than the nights I was in hospital), I can’t even describe how wonderful it feels to be back together again.

Today, now 24 hours later, we’re still reeling. Even breakfast tasted better than ever this morning. Last night upon Tom’s insistence, I never made the chateaubriand but instead cut the meat into sizable steaks, which we enjoyed topped with garlic mushroom, wine sauce I made just before we ate, along with a crispy green salad and rice for Tom.

He hadn’t slept well in the airport hotel and slept only about four hours in the past two days. I could tell he was tired but couldn’t doze off when he tried to take a short nap around 2:00 pm, 1400 hrs. In a funny way, he reminded me of a little kid excited to be where he was and unable to wind down long enough for his nap. It warmed my heart. I am so lucky.

Norman has visited several times already this morning but was annoyed with nearby male kudus, causing him to fluff up with his head low.

Louise wrote to me that last night I was the “happiest woman in Marloth Park.” So true, dear Louise. And I am still reeling today. They say, “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” But my heart was already pretty fond before he went away. In reality, we feel as lucky to be together today as we always feel.

Today, we’re making burgers on the braai (no buns) with bacon and the leftover garlic mushroom sauce, salad, and rice. Sundowners on the veranda on this lovely sunny day will begin at 4:00 pm, 1600 hrs., as always—dinner around 6:00 pm, 1800 hrs., and later streaming our favorite shows. Tom slept well and is experiencing no jet lag whatsoever, but surely another good night’s sleep will be worthwhile.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, March 16, 2022:

It didn’t take long for the wildebeest fight to commence. We knew that something would happen once they were on their knees. For more photos and a video of the battle, please click here.

Oops…forgot to upload yesterday’s post…Tom returns today!…11 year anniversary of our posts!…

A kudu mom and her young son who will eventually become a Big Daddy.

Gee…  late last night, I started getting messages that there was no post yesterday. Then it dawned on me that I hadn’t uploaded it since I was waiting to hear from Tom since he always proofread the posts within minutes of it being uploaded so we can correct any errors.

The time slipped away when he was on the plane for 16 hours. And I became so distracted by hearing his voice when he arrived that I forgot entirely about uploading the post. Neither of us thought of it when all that was on our minds was him getting back to me in the bush. Gosh, it’s been a long ten days.

Once he got situated in his hotel room in Joburg after we’d talked, he noticed I hadn’t uploaded the post and sent me a message. By then, I was under the covers and thinking about dozing off. It had to wait until this morning. If I got up and turned my laptop back on, I’d lose the sleepiness I was feeling.

Zebras wander over to the railing for pellets.

First thing this morning, I uploaded yesterday’s post, and now I am busy doing today’s, which I will remember to upload. I am still in one piece, counting the hours until Tom returns. I can’t tell you how many readers wrote to me wondering if a lion had eaten me.

A few minutes ago, I got a message from Tom that his Airlink flight from Joburg to Nelspruit had been delayed, a rare occurrence for that airline. They are always on time, from our experience. Oh, dear, so close and yet so far away. Now, I am waiting to hear from him as to when his expected arrival will be. He still has a long drive from Nelspruit to Marloth Park, with lots of traffic and endless trucks traveling on the N4 highway during the week.

I just heard from Tom. He’s on the plane. He should be landing in about 40 minutes. Then, he’ll get his bag and the rental car to begin the drive.

Zebras continue to stop by daily.

This morning I started working on tonight’s special dinner. I’m planning to make Chateau Briand with a fine piece of beef tenderloin with a lovely red wine mushroom sauce with roasted carrots and onions. But we may decide to have fillet mignon steaks with the mushroom sauce since we both like a different degree of doneness…he prefers medium-rare, and I like rare, which is tough to do when making Chateau Briand. It’s got to be one or the other. Plus, there’s load shedding from 5:00 pm, 1700 hrs., to 7:30 pm, 1930 hrs., and we won’t be able to use the oven. This dish is best prepared in an oven as opposed to a grill.

So we shall see. He’ll have rice, and both of us will have salad which I already prepared this morning, adding the homemade dressing at the end. It’s an easy dinner to prepare, leaving us plenty of time to catch up and enjoy the remainder of the day and the evening on the veranda.

We often find ourselves rereading specific posts, often many we’ve forgotten we ever wrote. It was 11 years ago today that we uploaded our first post, which may be found here. Maybe we will reread that post together this evening during sundowners on the veranda. It’s such fun to review our lives in such detail whenever it appeals to us.

Hoppie’s Mom and piglets can’t resist breaking through the fence to get into the garden.

Also, seeing old photos is a special treat. We didn’t post many photos in the first year, but after our readership grew in leaps and bounds, we realized adding photos was a must, along with uploading a new post daily. Initially, we thought we were doing the posts to keep the family updated. Little did we know it would eventually grow in leaps and bounds to reach readers worldwide. We are very grateful to all of our readers.

Soon Vusi will be here. He’ll fill the water dispenser with water so I can make Tom a huge batch of his favorite iced tea. Then, he’ll refill the pellet bucket so Tom won’t have to do it when he arrives. Plus, Vusi will fill the birdbath with fresh water and the birdseed containers with seeds. I’ve made lots of ice using our ice cube trays, so Tom won’t have to do that either. I want his first few days back to be free of household chores so he can relax and do what he loves.

Thanks for all the love and support from so many while I’ve been alone in the bush these past ten days and nights. It’s meant so much to me that I never really felt alone.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, March 15, 2022:

Warthogs often photobomb! For more photos, please click here.

Fantastic evening with friends in the bush…Tom’s on his way but ran into an obstacle…An uninvited visitor in the house…

Danie was preparing our dinner on an open fire which included slow-roasted lamb necks, roasted cauliflower, sweet potatoes, and more This was truly a South African meal. Delicious.

Note: I was so distracted by Tom returning I forgot to upload yesterday’s post!  Here you go…

The only way last night could have been better was if Tom had been with us. We all missed him and spoke of him often. That aside, we had a wonderful evening. Louise and Danie certainly know how to turn a meal into a memorable event serving fantastic food, a wide array of options, and an ambiance one would only expect in fine dining.

Most people don’t often invite half a couple for dinner. They wait until the partner has returned from wherever they may have been and then invite them as a couple. But Louise and Danie didn’t hesitate to invite me by myself, never giving it a thought that cooking for one guest may be a lot of extra work. These two special people aren’t afraid of work.

They’d been staying at the Khaya Umdani house, where my birthday party was held three weeks ago, since it has solar power, whereas their own home does not. Load shedding has been awful lately. I feel bad they put this massive inverter system in this house to ensure we are comfortable, yet they haven’t put it in their own home.

Khaya Umdani is the most upscale of all their rental properties (although all of them are very nice) and has always been our favorite. From time to time, when it’s not rented (a rarity), they use it themselves to get away from the annoyances of load shedding.

In 2014, we stayed at Khaya Umdani for about three weeks and cherished being there. We’d love to be able to rent it regularly, but it is out of the range of our budget, and we don’t expect Louise and Danie to lower the price and lose money with us staying there for so long. The price is about three times more per night than we pay for this lovely house that fulfills all of our needs and expectations.

The evening started with adult beverages and keto starters of ham, cheese, and dill pickles, perfect for my way of eating. By the time we stopped chatting long enough to eat the main course, I already felt full. But, not surprisingly, when they put that huge slow-roasted lamb neck on my plate, I dug right into it, savoring every morsel, never thinking, as the meat melted in my mouth, about how full I was getting. I wasn’t leaving a morsel behind.

This is where I sat at the table at Khaya Umdani last night at sunset when Louise and Danie prepared a fantastic meal for me. I brought my bottle of low-alcohol wine.

Yesterday, I baked two keto cream cheese pies with almond flour crusts, which I know they both love, one to bring to them and another for me. I only tried a few tastes of side dishes, which were also delicious. If I’d had more room, I’d have also piled them onto my plate. (Tom doesn’t care for it). I’d hoped to save space in my full stomach for a small piece when I got home.

They get up each day at 4:00 am and had another busy day working and prepping the lovely meal. They each had a small piece of pie and offered some to me, but I wanted to leave it all for them and also needed a little time for my food to settle down before I could enjoy the pie. Louise drove me home when  I insisted it was time to go around 9:00 pm, 2100 hrs.

The ride back was special when we saw a lot of wildlife hunkered down for the night along the dirt roads. It’s incredible how they all look out for one another. They only looked up for a few seconds when we drove by to ensure they were safe. It’s quite a sight to see.

Back at the house, no more than a minute after Louise dropped me off, I ducked when a huge bat flew over my head when I was in the lounge room. I thought I’d better quickly cut my little piece of pie and head off for the bedroom, knowing I’d never open the bedroom door again until morning.

Once I was settled with my pajamas on, I noticed a message coming in from Tom that his flight from Newark (where he was) had been delayed, which would cause him to miss the 16-hour flight to Joburg, which ultimately could delay him by as much as a day. He texted me at 2:00 am to let me know he’d be in the air before too long when the airline booked him on an earlier flight so he’d make his connection.

Louise had made cole slaw, salad, and creamed spinach, all of which were delicious. I ate an entire lamb neck, but a little of the sides since the meat was so large and delicious. I took bones and scraps for the mongooses I hadn’t seen in days.

With that flight often taking 16½ hours, plus going through customs and immigration in Joburg, most likely, he won’t arrive at the airport hotel until around  10:00 pm, 2200 hrs., or later tonight, where hopefully he can get some sleep and recover for his morning flight from Joburg to Nelspruit on Airlink. He still should arrive here by 1:00 pm, 1300 hrs., at the latest. Whew! What an ordeal!

Vusi is here now and hasn’t seen the bat anywhere, either. I suppose it will appear tonight when it’s dark. With the lions in the area, I don’t feel safe leaving the doors open after dark, plus doing so would invite more nocturnal creatures into the house. We’ll see how it goes. I am not panicking. I just don’t like bats flying around the room.

Anyway, that’s it for today. folks. Thank you for sharing these past long days and nights alone in the bush without my lover, partner, husband, and travel companion. Soon, he’ll be home. I am in the process of planning a special dinner for him. I will post the menu tomorrow.

Be well.

Two “Go-Away” birds are enjoying the birdbath in our garden. Photo from one year ago today, March 14, 2022:

For more photos, please click here.