A heartbreaking loss at our holiday home in the bush…Human, not animal…I had to pretend…

Jeff, sitting at the table on our veranda on the day before he passed away, getting ready to take a photo of the wildlife in the garden,

Today is Saturday. On Wednesday, our dear friend and houseguest Jeff, husband of friend Connie and dad of adult daughter Lindsay who arrived last Saturday (and dad to son David, who wasn’t here), passed away in bed at our holiday home in Marloth Park, South Africa. When Connie awoke on Wednesday morning, she assumed Jeff was still asleep.

Checking further, she realized he wasn’t breathing. She came to our door (they were staying in the two guest cottages on our holiday home property), and Tom rushed out to help. As a former fireman, he knew exactly what to do. He confirmed Connie’s assessment. Our friend Jeff had passed away in bed.

Jeff suffered from a fatal disease called MSA, Multiple System Atrophy, described as follows from this site:

“Multiple system atrophy (MSA) is a rare condition of the nervous system that causes gradual damage to nerve cells in the brain. This affects balance, movement, and the autonomic nervous system, which controls several basic functions, such as breathing, digestion, and bladder control.”

Jeff’s dream was to come to Africa to see the wildlife, and he did. On Tuesday, we all went into Kruger National Park, and Jeff, sitting in the front seat of their rented van, could see many species throughout the day. That night, when we returned, we had a nice dinner, after which he and Tom watched a Minnesota Vikings football game, enjoying every moment.

When we initially invited them to stay with us, we knew we wanted to do everything we could to make the visit memorable and meaningful for him, Connie, and Lindsey, who were loving and diligent caregivers, never burdened by the challenges, only burdened by the severity of his illness and how little time was left for him to cherish those he loved and his passion for coming to Africa.

Although Jeff’s speech was impaired due to his illness, his brain was sharp, and he and Tom chatted endlessly.  It was rewarding to witness how much fun he had been having in the place he longed to see before it was too late. Tom and Jeff always enjoyed lively conversation during the 31 years we’ve all been friends.

Over the past ten years, we’ve been friends; we’ve stayed in touch and had a chance for a few get-togethers when we visited Minnesota. They lived only a few kilometers from our home in our old lives. With Connie as a professional chef and me loving to cook and entertain, we often got together over great food and drinks.

In tomorrow’s post, I will share the process of a foreigner’s passing while in South Africa and the wonderful people who supported the process in the past few days.

I apologize for not mentioning this in the past several posts, which I struggled to write, having to alter some of the text to avoid letting anyone know. I didn’t want to put it out there for the world to see when family and friends needed to be notified of Jeff’s passing instead of seeing it online. Connie had posted a few links to our site before their arrival, and many of their loved ones could have been reading our posts. Now that most of their family and friends have been notified, I can reveal the sorrowful passing of Jeff on our site.

We’ll be back with more tomorrow.

Be well. Cherish the day.

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

Young kudu on the veranda at the old house. For more photos, please click here.

The wonders of the bush continue to thrill our guests…A first time visitor…

How wonderful this lovely lizard stopped by for our guests to see! “Agama is a genus of small-to-moderate-sized, long-tailed, insectivorous Old World lizards. The genus Agama includes at least 37 species in Africa, especially sub-Saharan Africa, where most regions are home to at least one species. Eurasian agamids are largely assigned to genus Laudakia.”

No words can describe how meaningful it is to have friends from afar experiencing Marloth Park with us. Meeting the wonderful locals and our friends and seeing all the stunning wildlife is hard to explain to an outsider. For those who are not animal lovers, these experiences may hold little significance.

“Reptile. Agama lizards are sometimes called rainbow lizards because of the colorful displays put on by the dominant males. While most agamas are green and brown, dominant males show off by rapidly turning their bodies blue and their heads bright red or yellow. Most agamas live in small groups, with the dominant male ruling over several females and sub-males. While sunning themselves each morning, the dominant male will claim the most elevated spot, with subordinates in lower areas. Agamas hunt by vision and prefer to wait for an insect to come by. Their sticky tongues help them hold onto prey.”

But, for the rest of us, each interaction leaves us reeling with pure delight. Once our friends leave at the end of the month, Tom and I will continue to treasure every day as we always have.

Now, as I write this, everyone is taking a much-needed nap. Our days and nights have been filled with one activity after another. Tom and I, used to all the commotion, are still sitting at the table on the veranda, watching numerous birds stopping at the birdbath, as shown in the photo below, to drink and bathe in the clean water.

Do you recognize this birdbath? Louise had the boys bring it here from our last holiday home, Lovebird’s Nest. We love all the birds and animals stopping by for a drink. In the background is a pile of lucerne we placed on a cement structure after receiving our second lucerne delivery this week.

Numerous animals have stopped by to drink. Now that the weather is warming up again, having access to clean drinking water is essential for our animal friends. Sure, they can search throughout Marloth Park to find a suitable waterhole, but such water sources are often dirty and filled with mud. Tom refills the birdbath a few times a day with fresh water.

With two bales of lucerne(hay) delivered here this week on Monday and Thursday, we had an opportunity to see many animals at one time. In some cases, there were no more animals than usual since our garden appears to be a desirable place to visit.  You may say, “No wonder! The animals are being fed.”

An adorable bushbaby stopped by to partake of the little yogurt cup we left for her in the evening. Our friends loved seeing her.

But it’s much more than being about food. The number of animals that come here often clearly illustrates how safe they feel here. It is instinctual for wildlife to remain on alert for life-threatening predators. Sure, there are lions and leopards in Marloth Park. Recently, they’ve just about obliterated the entire ostrich population in the park, along with countless impalas and warthogs.

To see these beloved animals feel safe around us is heartwarming on the one hand but terrifying on the other. Lions and leopards could just as easily come to our garden as anywhere else in the park. At night, we often hear the roar of these dangerous beasts. On Facebook, we often see photos of the remains of an animal that the large cats had partially devoured.

Lots of bushbucks, kudus, and wildebeests hanging around.

They can “run, but they can’t hide.” Nature always wins. A starving lion is as entitled to eat as the gentle little bushbucks that come to our garden for pellets, carrots, and other vegetables and fruits. Who’s to say one wild creature is more or less deserving of eating than another? It’s all a part of the life cycle in the wild, and we have no control over how it ultimately plays out.

This morning Tom took some photos and a video while Connie and I were getting our pedicures at Imbewe Spa (where I go once a month to have my toes done) when he spotted Norman and his son Noah, who’s maturing quickly in what appeared to be a horns-to-horns scuffle. Was Norman teaching Noah how to defend himself, or was he giving Noah the message that it’s time for him to move to another territory and let loose of following his mom and dad around?

Tulip and her daughter, Lilac.

We’ll only know the answer to this question soon if we see Norman and Nina visiting without their son. The three of them often visit two or three times a day. Will we ever see Noah again when so many residents in Marloth Park have never seen the nyala family as those of us in this area have been blessed to witness, day after day?

Ah, if only “they” could talk and tell us their intentions. How fascinating that would be. But, like us humans with a degree of uncertainty about our eventual demise, we don’t get to know precisely what our wildlife friends are thinking. It’s another one of those “mysteries of life” we don’t get to know.

Soon, we’re off to Jabula with friends for our usual Friday night dinner.  May all of you have a lovely evening as well.

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

A new bushbuck to our garden, Short Horn. Notice the size difference between his right and left horns. For more photos, please click here.

The remainder of our Kruger photos…More exciting photos to come…

Lindsey’s incredible photo of two hippos carrying on.

Today, we share more photos from our Tuesday visit to Kruger National Park. Our guests are still reeling from the adventure.

Early this morning, Norman, Noah, and Nina were waiting for us when Tom opened the doors to the veranda. He came to tell me, and I bolted out of bed to toss them some carrots while Tom refilled the bucket of pellets from the storeroom across the car park.

A bloat of hippos in the Sabie River.

In moments, the garden was packed with wildlife, and we both were busy feeding the various animals. In no time, our guests joined us at the veranda table, coffee in hand, and reveled in the wonder of the wildlife visiting us.

Our guests had some paperwork to tackle and preferred to stay in while I busied myself with household tasks and piles of laundry now that it was sunny again. Our linen napkins were dirty, and I wanted to get them washed before our next meal at the house.

We enjoyed watching this elephant.

Based on our plan to go to Amazing Kruger View for dinner and Crocodile River viewing tonight before sunset and tomorrow night at Jabula for our usual Friday night dinner, I won’t be making dinner again until Saturday. Rita and Gerhard will join us tomorrow evening.

Adorable baby elephant.

We are staying busy with our guests and looking forward to returning to Kruger in the next few days. They loved lunch at the Mugg & Bean and shopping in the fabulous gift shop at Lower Sabie. Of course, the wildlife sightings were the highlight of the day.

Moms and babies…

Tom and I are doing well. Neither of us stresses when we have houseguests. We maneuver through the days and evenings with ease. These wonderful friends are especially easy to host since they are blissfully resourceful and independent.

Plus, with them living in the two flats with their kitchen suitable for making a hot breakfast, coffee, and snacks, my only contribution is making dinner (with Connie’s help) and Tom doing his usual job of washing dishes, pots, and pans.

The moms and babies were fun to watch.

With Zef and Vusi cleaning five days a week, there’s little else for us to do otherwise: pick up after ourselves and clean up the kitchen after prepping and cooking meals.

They have also made their lunches since we stocked their flats with plenty of breakfast and lunch foods.  Most days, when we stay in, they make sandwiches for themselves and bring them to our house for more wildlife watching during their meal. Easy-peasy for us.

An elephant at the Verhami Dam.

As mentioned above, soon we’ll head to Amazing Kruger View for sundowners and dinner later. Hopefully, we will spot some wonders on the river, adding to the repertoire of photos they have collected during their stay.

Stay well. We will be back with more tomorrow!

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

Impalas have such pretty faces and markings. A helmeted guinea fowl manages to “photo-bomb.” For more photos, please click here.

More photos from Kruger National Park with friends…

Safari luck prevailed when we spotted these two cheetahs.

In a short time, Connie and I will head to the Imbewe Spa to have pedicures. It will be a fun break for us to luxuriate in the excellent service Patience and her staff provide. We’ll get our treatments simultaneously from two technicians, which will take about 90 minutes.

When we return, they’ll have lunch, and I’ll get back to work making bacon-wrapped meatloaf. We’ll add mashed potatoes, butternut squash, and salad to another excellent meal for the five of us. Last night, we did takeaway for dinner since we returned late from Kruger.

We couldn’t get a full-face photo of each cheetah when they never turned around before wandering off.

It was the first time since we’d been at this house. We did takeaway for dinner. Nothing on the menu worked for my way of eating, so I had leftover chicken salad and coleslaw from the previous day. We all had enjoyed our special day in Kruger and had worked up an appetite.

While I wrapped up yesterday’s post, Connie headed to the Tin Shack to pick up the four meals. At the same time, Tom and Jeff sat at the dining room table, since it was pelting rain outside, watching the Monday night football game between the Minnesota Vikings Game and the Philadelphia Eagles. Of course, the Vikings lost, and both were disappointed.

A bloat of hippos is seen from the bridge crossing the Sabie River.

Connie, Lindsey, and I sat at the table with the guys, chatting and sharing stories while the football game echoed in the background. The atmosphere was fun and festive while we all stayed indoors, reveling in our day’s adventures in the national park.

We ended up not getting off to bed until after 10:00 pm, 2200 hrs., and set up another episode of season nine of The Blacklist. Unfortunately, I nodded off midway through the show when Tom woke me up, suggesting I get under the covers and sleep. The past few days have been busy and fun since our friends arrived, after spending the past several months nursing my aching head and face and spending a part of the day resting.

Not long in the park, we spotted two moms and two babies. Our friends were so excited!

But, amid all the good times and commotion, I am finally beginning to feel better after almost a week on the increased dose of the medication. I can hardly express how grateful I am to be improving a little more each day. I still get the headache a few times each day, but the facial pain is gone as of a few days ago.

This morning we had a close encounter with a single giraffe who came up the veranda. She was gone when I got the camera, and we never got the photo. We were pleasantly surprised by how many animals came to visit this morning in the rain, but we took the time to enjoy each one of them, tossing pellets into the garden.

This photo was taken about one kilometer across the Sabie River. That’s the best my camera could capture.

We’re staying in today since it’s raining hard, off and on, every hour or so. Tonight, after sundowners, we’ll have a nice dinner inside the house and continue the delightful conversation.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, September 21, 2021:

This morning, the mongoose’s fur got wet and looked spikey! Ironically, it’s raining today. They’ll look the same if they visit. For more photos, please click here.

A rewarding day in Kruger National Park with friends…

Two waterbucks near the Vurhami dam.

With rainy weather on the horizon today and tomorrow, we all decided to chance it and go to Kruger National Park this morning. We realized the risk of a rainy and windy day existed, but we were all willing to give it a go. By the time we left, it was drizzling, but we were happily on our way.

Young waterbuck at Vurhami Dam.

Fortunately, we spotted some decent sightings before the rainfall escalated about an hour into the drive on the paved road. It always surprises us when we see so much wildlife when driving on the only tarred road in the vicinity of the Crocodile Bridge. But sightings are galore, and we’re rarely disappointed.

Stork at the Verhami Dam.

No more than 40 minutes into the drive, several “parades” of elephants gave us quite a show, and Tom and I were excited for our three friends to experience the sightings. It is an exquisite joy to share this with our friends from afar. They often expressed their utter pleasure in these experiences.

Yellow-billed stork at Verhami Dam.

The rain impeded our views from time to time, but we forged on with enthusiasm and commitment to see as much as possible. We were lucky to see what we did and look forward to sharing more photos in days to come. We didn’t get back to the house until almost 5:45, which meant we spent a whole day in Kruger after arriving shortly after 10:00 am. Often people say you can’t see anything of significance unless you arrive at the break of dawn, but we’ve never found it necessary to arrive so early in the morning. We don’t like getting up at 5:00 am to go to Kruger.

We stopped for lunch at the ever-popular Mugg & Bean, enjoying a nice meal and conversation! How fun it is to share the wonders of the bush with our friends who have never been to Africa in the past. Connie, Jeff, and Lindsey were shocked by the reasonable prices of the food and the quality of our lunches.

Baboons were hanging off the bank of the Sabie River.

The bridge over the Sabie River offered some good hippo sightings. We took many photos of hippos, as shown in today’s pictures, let alone the many others we’ve yet to post. After lunch, we headed to the Sunset Dam to see crocodiles, storks, herons, and hippos, which further rounded out of viewing experience.

We didn’t return to the house until after 5:00 pm, 1700 hrs., which was too late to defrost meat for dinner, so we decided to order takeaway from the Tin Shack restaurant, the first experience for all of us. There were leftovers from last night’s dinner that I opted to eat as opposed to ordering takeaway for myself. There’s rarely anything on a takeaway menu that works for my way of eating.

A leopard turtle crosses the red.

It was a great day with friends, sharing Kruger National Park, including their shopping spree in the fantastic gift shop at the Mugg & Bean. They loved every moment and made several purchases.

It rained most of the day, and the rain continued as we rolled into the evening. We dined indoors at the dining room table, which was lovely. Tom and Jeff watched the Vikings football game together while seated at the dining room table while we all had dinner and much delayed sundowners.

Be well. More to follow tomorrow.

Photo from one year ago today, September 20, 2021:
Wildebeests in the driveway. They eventually headed to the back garden for pellets; for more photos, please click here.

Safari luck has begun for our guests…

This oxpecker let out a call while standing on a giraffe’s neck.

Yesterday, we had only a few visitors stop by during the day since it was a Sunday and the park was still busy with tourists. As a result, we wanted Connie, Jeff, and Lindsey to see wildlife as soon as possible. We all got into their rented van and drove around Marloth Park to see what we could find.

Much to our delight, the animals didn’t disappoint. Today, we’re sharing some of the photos from that outing. We were glad to know we could all view the wildlife we encountered through the windows in the roomy van. Connie drove while the rest of us searched the bush for more sightings. It was an enjoyable time.

Note the oxpecker on the side of this giraffe’s neck.

Our guests used their phones to take photos, while I used the camera to get the shots we’re sharing today and tomorrow. We’ve found that most first-time visitors to Marloth Park often use their phones for photos but usually bring a camera when they return.

We’d invited Rita and Gerhard to join us for dinner, and we barely got back to the house in time for their arrival. Of course, I had to get busy preparing some starters. I decided to make easy starters and an equally easy dinner. We served peanuts, crackers and cheese, and biltong for the starters.

Giraffes are such attractive animals.

We served filet mignon, baked potatoes with sour cream, white rice, steamed broccolini, and mixed greens salad for dinner.  We didn’t do dessert since no one cared for sweets after dinner. However, on Saturday, I’m going to make a big pan of apple crisp.

Miraculously, I don’t have a headache today, nor is my face hurting. I’ve had periods over the past few days when the pain has  disappeared intermittently. But today, three weeks after I started the medication, the drugs seem to have fully kicked in. How long this pain-free state will last is beyond me, but I am savoring every moment right now.

Three giraffes in a row.

Dinner progressed without incident, and Tom did a great job cooking the steaks on the braai, perfectly cooked to each person’s preference. He did mine and Connie’s rare steaks precisely as we’d like. By the time dinner was over, I was exhausted. I couldn’t do another thing.

Over the past several months while I had the headache, since April 20th, when we tested positive for Covid-19, I’ve spent much time resting each day. However, we continued to entertain guests, go for dinner, and even travel out of the country; I never rebuilt my stamina.

Once I’ve been pain-free for a while, I’ll start walking again, trying to get close to 8000 to 10000 steps per day, and will spend less time sitting as much as I have these past few months. I’m looking forward to feeling more like myself again, active, energized, and full of enthusiasm.

Look at all these oxpeckers on the giraffe’s neck.

A bale of lucerne was delivered today, the first of two we ordered this week. The next one will come on Thursday, and we’ll also repeat this cycle next week while our guests are here. To our surprise, only a few animals have eaten off of the bale so far, two wildebeests and Tulip and Lilac. Hopefully, today more animals will come.

We hope to go into Kruger tomorrow based on how everyone feels and the weather. Rain is predicted this week which wouldn’t be an ideal time to go into the park. As always, we’ll “play it by ear.”

Have a fantastic day!

Photo from one year ago today, September 19, 2021:

One Wart is a frequent visitor. For more photos please click here.

It’s wonderful having houseguests…Can’t wait for Monday!…Exciting new sighting!…

Sorry, this is the back of a ground hornbill, a large bird we’d never seen in Marloth Park in the past. We couldn’t grab the camera quickly enough, but they moved away fast; these two shots were all we could get.

Why would I possibly wish time to fly at my age? There are only two reasons: one, the holidaymakers will have left after the weekend, and the animals will return to our garden; two, we’re having lucerne delivered, and more animals than we’ll be able to count will finish off an entire bale in one day.

Sundays are always quieter in the garden except, so far this morning, Norman, Nina, and Noah, several bushbucks, Delilah, and three ground hornbills (the first sighting for us other than when we’re in Kruger) also ran through the garden quickly preventing me from taking good photos other than the few I have posted here today.

Another distant view of the ground hornbill.

Our guests are still in their little cottages after a long flight and two travel days, but as I write this now, Lindsey just arrived and was happy to see a bushbuck in the garden. They missed the morning influx, but hopefully, more will come throughout the day.

This was a little lunch I put together yesterday for my boy Norman. He loved every bite.

Last night during dinner, which turned out well, we only had three huge warthogs in the garden napping at the edge of the veranda. From the size of the tusks, we determined it was Mom and Babies, and they hung around for a few hours.  But our guests enjoyed seeing the pigs but weren’t quite able to understand my affection for warthogs. In these next few weeks, I genuinely believe they will understand why.

My boy Norman came to call this morning before our friends were up. We hope that he and his family return soon.

We are thrilled to have Connie, Jeff, and Lindsey here. We have had a great time commiserating with them since we’ve been friends for over 30 years, have many great memories, and are excited to make new memories.  Last night’s dinner was fantastic, and now as I write this after taking many breaks, the three of them are sitting at the table on the veranda.

Nina, Norman’s partner, also stopped by this morning.

It’s a beautiful day today, thank goodness not as hot as yesterday’s 98F, 37C. There’s a slight breeze, and the humidity is relatively low at 26%. By dark, it cools down considerably when we’re sitting outdoors enjoying our dinner and watching for wildlife.

Last night’s dinner was a huge success. We were surprised the our three houseguests held up so well after the two travel days, including yesterday’s long drive from Johannesburg to Marloth Park. By 9:00 pm, 2100 hrs., they headed to the two cottages for the night. After a good night’s rest this morning, they are all feeling better and ready to enjoy time in the bush.

Norman was sniffing Nina.

This morning Louise dropped off another battery-powered lantern, so each of us has enough to get us through the frequent load shedding that escalated to Stage 6 as last night. This means that for 10 hours a day, we won’t have power for 12  hours. This is too much. Eskom is supposed to have a big press conference today to discuss the 500 billion rands they need to stop load shedding, which translates to about 28.4 billion US dollars.

We doubt that will ever happen, so we don’t see an end to this. There’s no way this country can come up with that sum to alleviate the possibility of a total blackout. I just read an update from Eskom stating that Stage 6 is unavoidable, or there would be a total blackout. This would be a fiasco and certainly impact our desire to continue our desire to stay here much longer.

Norman and Nina…

We can only wait and see what happens. As I’ve been typing this post, our power went out again. It’s been a few hours, and it hasn’t come back on yet. Louise checked on it, and apparently, it’s a  municipal fault, not more load shedding. We’ll get more of that starting in a few hours. Oh, good grief.

My boy…he’s so handsome.

TIA…This is Africa. This is what happens here. We do everything we can to get through this. Meanwhile, we’re enjoying time with our friends and looking forward to seeing more of our wildlife friends.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, September 18, 2021:

When peering out the kitchen window, we saw this image in the front of our house. For more photos, please click here.

Guests arriving today…Busy cooking (menu shown below) and getting their cottages well stocked…Stage 5 load shedding…

Two very young kudus showed up today without their moms for the first time. Maybe she’s sent them off on their own or she was nearby.

Our friends Connie, Jeff, and daughter Lindsey arrived in Joburg last night, sending us to text to alert us to their arrival. They spent the night at the airport hotel, where we stayed a few times. The City Lodge is conveniently located within the airport and provides a good place to stay to avoid driving to Marloth Park in the dark, which is highly dangerous due to the risk of a carjacking on the highway.

“The hadada ibis (Bostrychia hagedash), also called hadeda, is an ibis native to Sub-Saharan Africa. It is named for its loud three to four note calls uttered in flight especially in the mornings and evenings when they fly out or return to their roost trees. Although not as dependent on water as some ibises, they are found near wetlands and often live in close proximity to humans, foraging in cultivated land and gardens. A medium-sized ibis with stout legs and a typical down-curved bill, the wing coverts are iridescent with a green or purple sheen. They are non-migratory but are known to make nomadic movement.”

It’s a 4½ hour’s drive from Johannesburg to Marloth Park. Once they arrive at the Gate 2 entrance to Marloth Park, they will call us, and we’ll drive to meet them at the gate while they register for their entrance pass, which they’ll keep while they are here. There are no numbers on our house, which would be impossible to find when the numbers in bush houses in the park aren’t necessarily sequential.

We’ve been busy getting ready for their arrival. Everything is all set. We’ve loaded their fridge with foods they like and stocked the two cottages with repellent, insect spray, emergency lights, soap, battery-powered fans, and more. They have everything they need for comfort, including during load shedding.

Today, there was a mating pair in our garden.

Speaking of load shedding, here is the schedule for the next few days:

Sunday Load Shedding, Stage 5

1:00 – 3:30 am

7:00 – 9: am

3:00 – 5:30 pm

11:00 am – 1:30 am

Load shedding is most challenging during the night when it’s hot. Also, as shown below, a huge consideration with food in the refrigerator and freezer during the four-hour outage is expected on Monday morning. We’ll move the perishables to the chest freezer and also put a bowl of ice in the fridge.

Searching for even the tiniest morsel in the dry bush.

Monday Load Shedding, Stage 5

7:00 – 11:30 am

3:00 – 5:30 pm

11:00 am – 1:30 am

Louise stopped by this morning to drop off two dozen eggs from a local farmer who breeds chickens that produce eggs with double yolks. Thanks, Louise! We haven’t seen an egg with a double yolk since we first arrived in Africa nine years ago. (Can you believe it?) Soon, when I get further in this post, I’ll make a few eggs to hold me until tonight’s big dinner.

Connie, a professional chef, is particularly interested in trying foods popular in South Africa, and we included several items on today’s menu

They were off on their own for awhile but joined up a short time later.

Speaking of tonight’s big dinner, here’s the menu:

Starters, sample tasting

  • Traditional beef biltong
  • Biltong seasoned bacon


  • Three flattie chickens, roasted on the braai; two home seasoned and one peri peri spiced
  • Skilpadjies –  is a traditional South African food, also known by other names such as muise and vlermuise. The dish is lamb’s liver wrapped in netvet, which is the fatty membrane that surrounds the kidneys. Quite delicious
  • Boerewors – (pronounced BOO-ruh-VORS) is a fresh South African sausage that is perfect for the grill. The name means “farmer’s sausage” and comes from a combination of the Afrikaans words boer (‘farmer’) and wors (‘sausage’).Locally made and seasoned “game meat” bors – a standard type of South African sausages, cooked on the braai
  • Steamed buttery white rice
  • Roasted root vegetables
  • Mixed lettuce salad with homemade dressing

Since they don’t eat desserts, it made no sense for me to make one, but at some point, we will introduce them to the very popular Malva Pudding and Milk Tart.

After a few hours,, they suddenly flew off in a hurry making their usual “Hadada” sounds. Earsplitting, to say the least

Surely in their two weeks here in the bush, they’ll have an opportunity to try many other dishes such as Pap and Sheeba, described as  “Pap & Sheba with Grilled Sausage … This classic South African dish is also a popular braai side, served with rich tomato relish (known as sheba) and grilled.”

We look forward to sharing many of the wonders of South Africa with them, hoping they’ll leave here with the same passion for the bush we acquired over the years.

We will continue to post while they are here, albeit shorter posts on the days we go to Kruger National Park.

Be well.

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

That morning, when we spotted this injured kudu in the garden. We watched this over time; eventually, it completely healed, and we could hardly see a scar. These animals are resilient with robust immune systems. For more photos, please click here.

Adults only, please…Mating efforts in the garden…The best thing since sliced bread…

Young duiker Derek was trying his hand at mating with Delilah. She wasn’t interested. Note: the observer is on the other side of the fence.

We feel privileged to witness the cycle of life in the bush while sitting on our veranda, day after day. We watch all aspects with a sense of awe and wonder over the relationships of wildlife right before our eyes. Most of the wildlife are loving to their mates and exhibit gentle behavior. We find a great joy to behold.

From time to time, he took a pause to allow her to eat pellets.

Even resident warthog Lollie, with two “boyfriends,” Reuben and Busybody, shows loving interest when either of them is here. The tricky part is when both males are here simultaneously, during which they often get into a scuffle. Rueben is more aggressive and often chases Busybody away.

He was very determined.

Gosh, it’s fascinating to witness all of this exquisite animal behavior. Hours pass in a blur when we’re watching the wonders in the garden, day after day. No wonder we have little interest in going out when the “show” is right here, before our eyes.

A female bushbuck observed the activity.

Here’s some information about the breeding habits of bushbucks.

From this site:

“Common Duiker Breeding

After a gestation period of about six months, the females gives birth to one young weighing about 175 g, and very seldomly gives birth to twins. Before giving birth, the female will hide in dense vegetation. The young are well-developed at birth and can run within their first 24 hours, yet the mother hides them at first. Females give birth once a year, and first mate at the age of 8 – 9 months, only being fully grown at 7 months. Having no specific breeding period, duikers give birth at any time of year with a possible peak during the summer months. According to habitat and locality, their mating systems vary from monogamous pairs to males with more than one female.”

It’s spring here in a few days, perhaps attributing to this mating ritual.

From this site:

Mating Habits

These animals form monogamous breeding pairs. This means that one male mates and lives only with one female. No evidence for a peak breeding period has been found. Females are known to produce young at any time of the year, with gestation probably lasting 4-7 months. A female will seek out very secluded and thick cover for the birth. Normally one young is born, though sometimes there are two. Newborns are well developed when born and are able to run within a period of twenty-four hours. Both parents look after them. Young are weaned at 2 months of age and reach adult size in 6 months. Females attain reproductive maturity at 8-9 months and males at 12 months of age.

Perhaps, success? With a pellet in her mouth! Who eats during sex?

Ewes reach sexual maturity at 14 months. Even though rams reach sexual maturity at 11 months they generally do not mate until socially adept at the age of three years.”

This morning Tom was up and about at 5:00 am and did two loads of laundry while I stayed in bed, wide awake but still too sluggish to get up. These drugs I’m taking for the head and face pain knock me for a loop for about 12 hours. I started taking the 25 mg dose at 9:00 pm, 2100 hrs., and today, I awoke with no pain for the first time.

Derek’s enthusiasm continued over about 30 minutes,

I don’t know how long that will last since it’s been coming and going over the past few days since I upped the dose. I am finally very hopeful—perfect timing with our friends arriving tomorrow. I still feel sleepy during the day and will lie down for a few minutes when I have time. According to the literature, the drowsy side effect will diminish over time.

Finally, Delilah rests after the challenging events of the day.

We were concerned about our houseguest suffering on the hot nights when there were 2½ hours of load shedding during the night. There are no inverters in those two units, and it can be hot at night on 100F and 38C days. When we expressed our concerns to Louise, within hours, she and Danie made the long drive to Nelspruit to purchase three chargeable fans, one for each of the two flats where our friends will stay and one for us to use while sitting outdoors when the temperatures rise very soon.

Here’s a photo taken of one of the fans, which are all charging right now since load shedding ended a few minutes ago:

The greatest invention since sliced bread…a rechargeable fan, ideal when power interruptions occur frequently. The fan will last 10 hours on a low setting, and six hours on a high setting, making it suitable for load shedding.

Louise pays all the utilities, but we are very mindful about using electricity, especially for the air con unit in the bedroom. Now when it’s outrageously hot during the day, instead of going into the bedroom and turning on the air con, we can sit in front of the quiet rechargeable fan. We appreciate the fans for our guests and us. She never misses a beat on satisfying the needs of her guests. She and Danie are both fantastic!

Now, I have to return to work in the kitchen making 24 regular (non keto) blueberry muffins and two pans of mushroom, onion, cheese, and crustless sausage quiche, a pan for each of us for breakfast over the next few weeks while our guests are here.  For freshness, we’ll freeze individual portion sizes to keep in the freezer at both houses.

I will post again tomorrow since we don’t expect our guests to arrive until the afternoon. I’ll go back and forth, making the dinner for tomorrow night and working on the post, getting everything prepped by the time they arrive.

Tonight? Jabula with Rita and Gerhard!

Be well.

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

A helmeted guinea fowl and her chick are looking for pellets at the veranda’s edge. For more photos, please click here.

Off to Komati…Lots to do to get ready for company…

We love the colorful heads on helmeted guinea fowl who visit us every evening around 4:30 pm, 1630 hrs., and then 90 minutes later head off in single file into the bush to “go to bed.” Early birds. We laugh every time we see this.

We don’t have many new photos today. I’ve been so busy taking care of travel-related projects or financial stuff and then nursing my aching head and face that I haven’t focused on taking photos as much as I had. I hardly have any photos in the folder on my desktop entitled “Today’s New Photos.”

We’d intended to return to Kruger National Park, where photo ops are aplenty, but bouncing around in the small rental car has held little appeal with the headache. Although I have experienced some relief in the past few days after increasing the dose of the medication, the slightest motion or sudden turn of my head starts it all over again.

When we returned from shopping, these four bushbucks were mainly female, waiting in the garden for us.

I’ve learned that standing quickly after sitting fires it back up again. I am trying to learn to be mindful of such activities to enjoy the pain-free periods for however long they last. This morning, after awakening without pain, I bolted out of bed, realizing I had better get on the ball and get up.

I planned to get up early and clean the main refrigerator, making room for all the groceries we’ll be buying today after my breakfast at Stoep with Rita. Once showered up and dressed, I immediately tackled the fridge cleaning, and 20 minutes later, we had plenty of room for the new influx of food.

Tulip decided to take a rest in our garden.

While doing this, I kept thinking about how much I longed for a cup of coffee but decided to wait until I was done and then reward myself. Alas, I forgot to turn on the kettle, and just like that, load shedding started. Of course, the kettle wouldn’t work, and I didn’t feel like boiling water in a pot on the gas stove, using a lighter to start the gas burner. Yes, we are grateful we have gas burners, although the oven is electric.

When load shedding occurs during dinnertime, which it has done every day so far this week, it helps to use the stovetop to prepare our meals instead of waiting until 7:30 pm, 1930 hrs., to eat dinner. We prefer to dine by 6:00 pm, if possible, although it may be later when dining out.

Any minute, Rita will arrive to pick me up. I have the most extensive grocery list on the app on my phone than I’ve had in a very long time. But with three guests who eat foods we avoid, my goal is to be mindful of what they like instead of what we always eat. So, I will be buying both ways – low-carb; meat, eggs, vegetables, and some high-fat dairy, and also for our guests, the typical US diet of grains, starches, meats, vegetables, and snacks.

I tossed some cabbage out to them. They love the moisture in fresh vegetables.

Tom will come into the market with me, and we’ll use two trolleys. This way, we’ll be able to keep it all straight. I only plan to purchase enough food for four or five days, and then Connie and I can go shopping together, choosing what we prefer to cook and eat. I am sure it will all work out well.

Back from Komati…

Rita and I had a lovely breakfast, after which she dropped me off at the pharmacy to fill my prescription and a few toiletries. When done, I walked the short distance down the strip mall to the Spar and began shopping while waiting for Tom to join me. Our plan worked well; we kept their food and supplies in one trolley and theirs in another. We spent a small fortune.

And then, there were five…

Once back at our place, we brought their food to the cottage, and once it was all put away, we headed back to our house to unload our food into the two refrigerators and the chest freezer. We purchased enough food for five dinners and breakfasts,  lunches, fruit, and snacks for them. Whew!

For the rest of the day, which is rapidly ending, we’ll hunker down and have a nice dinner of leftover mozzarella stuffed meatballs topped with homemade Italian sauce and grated mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, with steamed broccolini and a big salad.

Tomorrow, I’ll make a huge batch of blueberry muffins and a few pans of crustless quiche to share with our guests. The next few weeks will be busy, but we’ll do everything we can to make it seamless and stress-free. Staying calm is of the utmost importance in making house guests feel at ease.

Have a great day!

Photo from one year ago today, September 15, 2021:

Broken Horn can’t get enough visits to our garden, even napping when he needs a restful break. For more photos, please click here.