Another funny coincidence…Unlikely cohorts…

Stringy and Chevy, an impala, are getting along quite well. Usually, the impalas that visit for pellets don’t get close to the veranda. But, Chevy is becoming more comfortable with us sitting at the table.

It was worrisome when Tom didn’t return from Nelspruit in the time it usually takes to drive back to Marloth Park, even factoring for potential traffic delays. After setting up the drive, I checked “Maps” to see if there were any accidents or construction delays, but nothing showed up.

Of course, I was worried. It’s a dangerous road, the N4 from Nelspruit to Marloth Park, primarily through the gorge, the part I mentioned that I dislike the most when we make that drive. The “in and out driving” to pass trucks and other vehicles is stressful, but there are risks of carjackings along the routes. I couldn’t help but think the worst when he hadn’t returned when it was almost 4:00 pm, 1600 hrs.

Usually, Stringy runs off when there’s other wildlife nearby. But, today, he was comfortable.

When finally he drove into the driveway, I sighed with relief but was shocked to see him drive up in what appeared to be the exact vehicle, a gray Suzuki Presso, which looks like a mini SUV. By coincidence, he has given an identical model and color without asking for it from a different rental car company. We laughed out loud.

In this case, when we rented for two months, Budget refused to allow him to sign two contracts, each for one month. A month from now, on February 22, he’ll have to drive back to Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger Airport to sign another contract and probably keep the same vehicle. What a pain. Budget allowed him to sign multiple contracts for multiple months on other occasions.

It’s always great to see Thick Neck. He hasn’t been coming around as much since Gordy became a regular.

He was unable to book the car under one booking. The system for Budget, which had the best prices, only allowed individual 30-day bookings. Thus, the necessity of him returning in a month. He, too, isn’t fond of the long drive.

As for why he was late, he forgot to get cash at the good ATM at the airport, which I’d reminded him about when he went out the door. But, preoccupied with the car rental, he forgot. When he realized it on the return drive, he drove off the beaten path to Komatipoort to the ATM near the Spar market. This delayed him by about 20 minutes, sufficient time for me to be concerned.

Chevy was looking up at something.

Once he was settled, we headed out to the veranda, when Little appeared as he often does around this time of day. We tossed some pellets his way while I chatted with him about “what a good boy he is” and “how happy I was to see him” once again. We listened to some music while discussing our time apart, and before we knew it, it was time to put dinner together.

We spent the remainder of the evening indoors, dining at the dining room table, later settling in the bedroom to watch a few shows on my laptop. The evening was warm and humid, and the time in the air-conditioned bedroom was comfortable.

Bushbucks are loners. Impalas seem to be comfortable around kudus, wildebeests, zebras, and others and often live in large herds.

Yesterday was our granddaughter Maisie’s birthday and of course, we’d sent her a gift. But, it would have been great to speak to her. With her school schedule and the 8-hour time difference, the timing didn’t work for us to talk. Tonight, we will try again, hoping to reach her.

Also, tonight, we’ll cook on the braai, making bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin with rice for Tom and salad for both of us. Today, it’s hotter and more humid than yesterday, but I’m still working hard on my indoor walking after breaking a recent record for the number of steps at 7000. I don’t think I’ll ever get to 10,000 steps indoors. My goal is 7500 steps a day, not as much as I’d done in the corridors in India. It’s harder to walk indoors in small spaces, but I’ll be happy with the new goal once achieved.

Have a happy day!

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

A year ago, the bush wasn’t as lush and green as it is this year. A forkl of kudus in the garden, and of course, a warthog in the photo. They never miss a photo op. For more photos, please click here.

Here again, perfection is not possible…

  • It was good to see Broken Horn this morning after he’d had a busy weekend.

Today’s post is #3445. It’s hard for me to grasp how many posts we’ve done over the almost ten years we had been posting, beginning on March 15, 2012. I’m sure I’ll mention this ten-year mark again on the anniversary date. We sure are into anniversaries, most good, some not so good.

As I look back at some of our old posts each day, I see that many have lost the corrections I made after working on them for over a year. I can think of why this happens because our site is so large with this many posts and stuff happening.

When I encounter old posts with errors, I correct them. But, I have no interest in starting to do corrections all over again. So be it. It’s the nature of the beasts, and due to my commitment to attempt perfection, I am OK with this decision. Also, as political correctness has changed in the past ten years, I may have said something that I’d be more mindful of saying today in an attempt to avoid offending any group, individual, culture, or religion.

Tom reads what I’ve written moments after uploading a new post each day. He searched for typos I missed and any comments that could potentially offend anyone. Although not an expert in spelling and grammar, he is excellent in this capacity, and without his diligence, we’d have many more errors than we do.

The app he uses to pick up errors is different than mine and thus, he often finds five or six other misspelled words or typos. It would be easy for a person to be somewhat defensive under these circumstances of being corrected every day. But, long ago, I decided not to become defensive when he pointed out the errors. I allow him to nitpick.

He has quite a memory for dates where I remember places, people, and things. As he discovers each issue, I promptly make the corrections. After his app picks up errors, he then reads the entire post and photo captions, searching for any statements I may have made that might not be correct or may be inappropriate. Combined, we strive to be complete and accurate.

As for our dull and mundane days and nights…that’s another aspect of “the nature of the beast.” This is particularly the case during the past two years of the pandemic when we haven’t been able to be as mobile as we’d have preferred. There’s no way we would have spent an additional ten months in India, nor was our intention to spend over a year in South Africa this time around.

Vusi and Zef just washed the rental car inside and out. We prefer to give them the money for the cost of a carwash rather than pay the local carwash at the little shopping center. Soon, Tom will leave for Nelspruit to return the car. We are returning it one day late.

The car rental company called on my phone this morning inquiring as to when we’d be returning the car. I explained that we tried to phone the rental car company to inform them that the car would be delivered one day late, but there was no cell service over the weekend, nor was I able to get a connection on Skype. That happens sometimes.

After all, TIA (“This is Africa”) and services don’t always work as one would hope or expect. Tom should be back by three to four hours after he leaves, depending on traffic both ways. With many trucks on the highway and road construction that’s been going on for years, it’s difficult to predict when he’ll return. Plus, it takes a while at the Budget counter at the airport to process the two-month rental we need.

I stay working on dinner, my walking, and a few projects around the house, and we’ll be back with you tomorrow. Of course, I’ll be spending plenty of time checking out who’s in the garden and may need some pellets and attention. Otherwise, this will be a quiet day.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, January 24, 2021:*

*With no power and WiFi one year ago, we’ve included this photo from this date in 2013 while we were onboard the Celebrity Equinox, having a fantastic time!

Pastry Chef Xavier and Jess. He was determined to make me a special dessert. We shared “foodie” tidbits! And, he did so to perfection—what a wonderful experience. Gee, I wish I still had that dress and wrap. For more photos, please click here.

Today is the day our current visas expire…Ordering health insurance…A convenient free online shared calendar app…

This is Bossy, who is pregnant and contemplating a drink from the swimming pool. There are only small amounts of chlorine in pools here to prevent the wildlife from illness.

All we can do about our visas expiring today is wait until we hear from South Africa immigration that our visas have been extended. In the interim, we’ve decided not to worry. We filed for the extensions within the time frame they require, so we should be fine.

Tomorrow, coinciding with our visa expirations, our rental car is due to be returned by 3:00 pm, 1500 hrs. Tom will drive to Nelspruit without me. I don’t particularly appreciate driving through the gorge halfway through the trip. Tom has no problem going on his own, and I can easily busy myself while he’s gone for three-plus hours in the afternoon.

We’ve arranged for him to pick up another car at a different dealer. We had to do a lot of research to find another affordable rental car. Since the onset of the pandemic, rental car prices have gone through the roof. Every 90 days, when we need a different contract, we struggle to find cars at reasonable prices, even here in South Africa, where prices had previously been affordable when we arrived in 2018.

Her pregnant status is easy to determine from these photos. It will be fun to see her bring her little one to visit us in the future. The gestation period for a kudu is about 240 days.

Staying in any location for extended periods always presents some challenges. Not having a home, our own car, and the insurance that goes with such ownership, on top of the problems due to finding and securing good health insurance. Today, I’ll be renewing my policy with SafeTrip from United Health Care.

With Tom’s excellent health, we aren’t insuring him right now. Once we’re on the move again, especially when some cruises require proof of health insurance which includes emergency evacuation, which makes sense to have when cruising as seniors, we’ll both be insured.

The policy has a limit of US $50,000 due to my age. I purchased the policy today for me beginning tomorrow, ending on April 8, the day we sail away. A few days before the cruise, I’ll sign up both Tom and me for a new 90-day policy. I always post a notice on our combined Cozi Calendar, a free family calendar app available online to keep track of the expiration dates.

Bossy with a few impalas in the background vying for pellets.

If you’re interested in an easy-to-use, conveniently shared calendar for travel or day-to-day appointments, this app is ideal easier to use than those offered by other providers. Here’s the link for the free app. You can choose to pay a fee for a slightly more sophisticated version, but we’ve never needed to do so.

When I awoke at 5:30, I stayed in bed reading news until finally, at 7:00, I bolted out of bed, ready to tackle the day. I decided to make dinner with the leftover ingredients from Friday night’s dinner party. There was a good-sized ziplock bag of cut-up chicken breasts which I’d frozen on Friday.

Last night, after returning from dinner at Jabula with friends, I took the bag of the cubed-cooked chicken out of the freezer and put it into the refrigerator to find it fully defrosted this morning. With that and many leftover vegetables, I had enough ingredients to make three more low-carb pot pies. Tom will have one tonight and another tomorrow, while I’ll eat one tonight and have something different tomorrow, maybe tuna salad atop a big green salad that suits me just fine.

Impalas are quite shy around humans and scurry if we make the slightest sound or movement while they visit.

As for today, a lovely coolish day with tolerable humidity, I did three loads of laundry after prepping the meals and putting away all of the dry laundry on the rack. To increase my steps, I fold one item at a time and walk it to where the item belongs, Tom’s closet in our bedroom, my chest of drawers in the second bedroom, or towels in the kitchen. It’s amazing how many steps I can get in doing laundry this way. I make a point of walking with vigor to increase my heart rate.

That’s it for today, folks. We hope you have a delightful Sunday and a new week to come.

Be well.

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

Love Bird's Nest
View of the veranda and pool at our house in the bush. For more, please click here.

Lovely evening on the veranda with great friends, good food and Mother Nature…

It was 4:00 am when our regular genet appeared in the garden sitting atop of a rock observing these two female bushbucks.

The weather was ideal, the guests were cheerful and enthused to be at our bush home, and the food, wine, and conversation flowed with ease. Rita, Gerhard, Rita’s sister Petra and brother-in-law Fritz joined us at the table on the veranda for snacks with beverages at sundowner time, beginning at 4:30 pm, 1630 hrs, followed by dinner a few hours later.

All of us stuffed from dinner. After the main course, we waited for about an hour to serve dessert, the chocolate cake I’d made in the morning, with photos in yesterday’s post found here. The low-carb cake was delicious and another treat we appreciated after it was only recently that I’d baked a few cakes, having missed desserts for quite some time.

We turned on the music between dinner and dessert using our JBL Essential Bluetooth speaker, which sounds almost as good as any major sound system. We sent my phone around the table for each of us to say, “Hey Google, play _ _ _ _ _, on YouTube.”

Young kudu male stops by, standing on the veranda to get our attention. We tossed pellets out into the garden to avoid getting too close to those growing horns.

We’d each speak our favorite song on the phone, and it was fun to hear what each of us chose. There certainly was a wide array of music, in part cultural, with our four guests from Germany (although Rita and Gerhard have lived in the US for over 30 years). Tom and I each chose oldies, his more geared toward rock and roll and mine, from the disco period in the late 70s and early 80s. It was great fun.

At one point, Rita and Petra danced to a favorite song from their OctoberFest days. It was delightful to see their favorite cultural dance. Ironically, in yesterday’s post, I’d mentioned cultural dances we’ve observed and enjoyed worldwide over the years and most assuredly enjoy in years to come, health providing, and we’re able to continue.

This warthog stopped by who’d recently had an injury to his left wart. It could have happened in several incidents with other animals.

As always, after dinner, Tom insisted on handling all the dishes, requiring that he load and empty the dishes twice and wash a variety of pots and pans. It helped that we’d all carried the plates and dishes indoors, but, still, he had his hands full for a few hours after our guest left, slightly before 10:00 pm, 2200 hrs.

On and off, throughout the evening, we were entertained by many of our favorite wildlife visitors who weren’t put off at all by our loud banter and not too loud music. We are far from any other houses at our current location and are never concerned we’re disturbing neighbors.

Tom just finished his leftovers while I am munching on the leftover salad and vegetables, cooked green beans, and sugar snap peas. We’d made individual low-carb pot pies and had saved the thick lids used to cover the tin foil pans. After dinner, we passed around the lids and a pen so everyone could write their name on their corresponding leftovers and take them home for today’s lunch.

We just missed a good photo of this monitor lizard.

We won’t eat again until dinner tonight at Jabula, where the six of us will meet up for dinner, which will undoubtedly be another fun evening. We enjoy our busy social life, which will continue after Petra and Fritz return to Germany. Several other friends will be arriving in Marloth Park in the next few weeks, and the social activities will ramp up from here.

We’re pleased to share another sighting of our usual genet from our trail cam, as shown in the main photo. What a joy it has been to see our favorite nocturnal animals these past many weeks, as well as the frequent daytime visitors that continue to entertain and amaze us.

May you have a pleasant day, evening, and weekend.

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

There are no less than three mating pairs of francolins in our garden. In a short time after our arrival to Marloth Park, we named this francolin Frank, along with his partner, The Misses. For more, please click here.

Company coming for dinner!…Busy day…Unbelievable sighting last night…Photos from our camera…

Last night, Tom spotted the porcupine at the edge of the veranda. We were shocked when it didn’t run away when we opened the door and the screen, allowing me to take these three photos. What a thrill!

Tom often says, “You bite off more than you can chew,” especially when it comes to entertaining. He says this when he sees me running around like a “whirling dervish.” For the first time, I looked up the definition of a whirling dervish, and this is what I found:

“A dervish is a Muslim of a particular religious order. They are known for their worship rituals which require the dervish to spin very fast, causing his clothing to fan out in a circle. … To call something a whirling dervish is to say that object or person resembles a spinning top or is wild in its movement.”
We saw such a dance at one point in our travels, most likely on a cruise ship, and it was delightful to watch. No offense intended, by any means. Can I say this? We’ve observed many cultural dances throughout the world and haven’t ever considered our observance of these rituals offensive to any parties, including those performing those rituals. That’s part of the wonder of this fantastic world we live in.
We were so excited to see her we had to hold back our squeals.
These days, I do less multi-tasking and spend more time focusing on one task at a time when cooking, either for guests or for us. Perhaps in the future, Tom should say I’m like a “spinning top” when preparing for a dinner party or even a less work-intensive sundowner event. I must admit I am.
We’d invited Louise and Danie to tonight’s dinner, but he’s been sick with some virus. Whether it’s Omicron or not, they’ve decided to stay away, just in case since he hadn’t been tested. One can’t be too cautious these days, and we appreciate their staying away, just in case. But Louise isn’t sick, so it may not be Omicron since it’s so infectious, and surely by now, several days later, she’d have been infected.
Since I’d made the entrees for eight this morning, on our way to the little market for cream, we dropped off two servings of the low-carb chicken pot pie at Louise and Danie’s house, each in individual serving containers. At least they can relax and have a leisurely dinner by adding a salad.
After watching her for about 10 minutes, she wandered off into the bush. The trail camera didn’t catch her visit, but our camera did the trick.
The result is we’ll only have a party of six tonight, starting with sundowners and light snacks at 4:30 pm, 1630 hrs, with dinner served a few hours later. Of course, I couldn’t resist baking another low-carb cake, this time a two-layer chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, decorated with sugar-free coconut candies and unsweetened coconut flakes.
If the cake is tasty, we will post the recipe tomorrow. Right now, I am waiting for the two layers to cool. I wonder how I’m going to fit the frosted cake in the refrigerator, packed with food for tonight’s dinner. I’m sure I’ll figure it out. See the photo below for the cake.
This is today’s low-carb cake for tonight’s dinner party.
I made the dough for the pot pies yesterday. Soon, I will roll the dough into the 72 little puffs. All I have left to prep for the main meal after I frost and decorate the cake is to make the green salad, salad dressing and set the table on the veranda. Before baking the pot pies, I’ll top each of the six servings with  12 little low-carb dumplings that I have yet to form into their shapes.
Today, the temperature isn’t too high, but the humidity is awful, so from time to time, I’ll take a break and head into the bedroom to cool off for 10 minutes at a time, turning on the aircon. If time allows, I’ll get my walking done but, today, I may get in enough steps from running around like a spinning top.
I hope your day and evening are filled with good food, good friends, or even a good book if that’s on the agenda. Be well.

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

Cute banded mongoose using a tree stump to pose for a photo. For more photos, please click here.

Eye exams and costs for eyewear in South Africa…We got our boosters in the most unlikely place…

When I tossed leftover salad into the garden, the “Go-Away” birds arrived within minutes. They loved the grape tomatoes. Who knew? It was fun to watch them. The grey go-away bird feeds on leaves, flowers, fruit, buds, and the occasional small invertebrates. They are agile birds and run along tree branches when feeding. The grey go-away bird is an important seed disperser for many fruit trees. This bird will practice geophagia, eating soil, to get the nutrients lacking in its diet.

Yesterday at noon, we were both scheduled for eye exam appointments with the same optometrist in Komatipoort we’d used in 2018. I knew my prescription had changed when I’d been having trouble reading small print in the past year or so, but Tom hadn’t noticed any changes.

As it turned out, Tom’s prescription had changed in his left eye only as did mine also in the left eye. When Dr. Dawie sent me home with test contacts for the new prescription to try out, I was able to reduce the font size on my phone and my laptop. What a thrill! I won’t have to bring “cheaters” to the supermarket with me when trying to read labels for carb counts on certain products.

The sounds from the Go-Away birds sound like go-away from time to time.

With Tom’s frames getting loose, he was ready for a change on both his clear and sunglasses. He picked out another rimless “designer” frame for both new pairs, and I ordered a 12-month supply of Air Optix contact lenses. With everything so slow due to Covid and now Omicron, it could be a month or more until our new products arrive.

We were pleased with the cost of the new eyewear. The total for Tom’s two pairs of glasses in identical frames is ZAR 9026, US $589. And my year’s supply of contacts is ZAR 6432  US $419 for a total for both of us is ZAR 15458, US $1008. If I remember correctly, the last time Tom purchased glasses at Costco in the US, he paid almost twice as much, and that was nearly ten years ago.

Suddenly, there were five Go-Away birds. The grey go-away-bird (Crinifer concolor), also known as grey lourie, grey loerie, or kwêvoël, is a bold and common bird of the southern Afrotropics.

My contact lenses are a little more than I’ve paid in the past, but we were willing to pay a little more for these good rates and the convenience of getting them here. Mine won’t arrive for at least six weeks. Tom will have his sooner. It was a relief to get this done.

Next, we headed to the Spar Supermarket, where we could get the J & J vaccine boosters outside the door to the store, sponsored by Tonga Hospital in Tonga, Mpumalanga. We brought along our passports and paper vaccination cards. Louise just so happens to have a laminating machine so we can laminate the final paper copies to fit in our wallets, keeping the original paper copies for any future add-ons.

The grey go-away bird gets its common English name from its call, which sounds like the bird is telling you to go away. It is a nasal call “g’wa-ay, g’wa-ay.” This is a highly vocal bird and will call whenever it is disturbed. These birds are gregarious and move in groups of up to 20 birds. Go-away birds need to drink regularly and will flock to water sources. The grey go-away bird roosts in small groups at night. The grey go-away bird can often be seen laying on the ground with its wings and tail spread, also having dust “baths.”

There was no queue for the boosters. They processed our papers and sent us over to the nurse to get the shots. We weren’t asked to wait afterward as we’d done when we were vaccinated at the airport in Minneapolis in July. If anything went wrong, Dr. Theo’s office was down the road, no more than five minutes from there.

We went straight into the supermarket and did our shopping, entirely forgetting we’d had it done. Since we had no ill effects after the first vaccine, we didn’t give it much of a thought. By the time we paid for our groceries and loaded up the little car, an hour had passed, and both of us were fine. Our arms aren’t tender today, or are we experiencing any issues whatsoever. There was no charge for the boosters. We’re both glad this is finally out of the way.

They often tilt their heads to listen when we talk to them.

Back at the house by 2:00 pm, 1400 hrs, after putting everything away, I had time to upload the post and do my walking. By 4:15 pm, 1615 hrs, we were situated at the table on the veranda. As usual, Little stopped by, ate some pellets, scared away all the other pigs, and enjoyed some carrots I sent his way. He swallows them whole with his powerful jaw and teeth.

Today, I am chopping, dicing, and doing some prep work for tomorrow’s dinner party, which will be for six or eight depending on whether Danie is feeling well again. We’ll play it by ear and see how he does.

We were surprised when she stood on the veranda railing, but even more so when we jumped onto the table while we sat there.

We hope you have a pleasant day.

Photo from one year ago today, January 20, 2021:

We couldn’t believe how brazen she was. She had no fear of us. “The Thick-Tailed Bushbaby is a nocturnal primate with child-like cries, which gave cause for the English vernacular name. Thick-tailed bushbabies are three times the size of the smaller bushbabies. This is probably due to its diet and larger body size. This is the most social of all known bushbabies.” For more photos, please click here.

Another busy day in the bush…Final Kruger photos…

A hornbill sitting atop a bush.

We are relieved the immigration application has been submitted. Now we wait to hear what transpires in the next 60 days. If we aren’t approved, we’ll have to leave in seven days. We’re optimistic that we’ll be approved. We continue to read about Celebrity Cruises canceling. So far, our April 8 cruise is staying in place.

Today is a busy day. Our eye doctor appointment is at noon, followed by vaccine boosters at the Spar Market. I don’t know how I feel about getting a booster outside a supermarket. But, it was the only nearby option for the J & J booster. We need to get this done.

A yellow-billed stork on a branch.

After both of those events, we’ll grocery shop at Spar with a comprehensive list for Friday evening’s dinner at our place. Rita, Gerhard, Petra, and Fritz are coming for dinner. Louise and Danie may join us if Danie’s feeling better by then since he’s currently under the weather. We have a good menu planned and will share details later.

Vusi and Zef are here now, cleaning the house. The mechanism for the master bath toilet has been acting up for a few days. This morning, Louise went to Komati to get the parts for the boys to replace the inner workings today. It’s been making a squealing noise with the water running constantly. We did the usual “jiggle the handle” thing and even looked inside to see if an adjustment would help.

Vultures, on the lookout, for possible prey.

Toilet parts are different here than in the US, so neither of us knew how to fix it. Plus, there was no shut-off valve under the toilet. Tom, hard of hearing, couldn’t hear the squeal all night long. It was one of those sounds out of his range of hearing. Luckily, last night I was tired enough that I was able to sleep through the noise with the aircon and the fan on.

It’s a beautiful day. The humidity is lower than usual, with the temperature now at 84F, 29C, perfect with the light breeze. It’s a welcomed relief after weeks of high heat and excessive humidity, causing us to swear constantly. Doing my fast walking the past few weeks has been a challenge in the heat. Today will be easier.

The walking is going well. I am up to 6000 steps a day, 4.8 km, 3 miles, adding more each week. After being relatively inactive compared to how I was in India, walking 8 km, 5 miles a day feels good. Within a week, I’ll be at 7500 steps which are 6 km, and I will be happy with that. The 10,000 steps a day theory is just that:

A dazzle of zebras in the bush.

I-Min Lee, a professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and an expert on step counts and health, the 10,000-steps target became popular in Japan in the 1960s.”

More on this from this article, stating:

“A 2019 study by Dr. Lee and her colleagues found that women in their 70s who managed as few as 4,400 steps a day reduced their risk of premature death by about 40 percent, compared to women completing 2,700 or fewer steps a day. The risks for early death continued to drop among the women walking more than 5,000 steps a day, but benefits plateaued at about 7,500 daily steps. In other words, older women who completed fewer than half of the mythic 10,000 daily steps tended to live substantially longer than those who covered even less ground.”

If this is true, I am on track with the number of steps required to do me some good. I had read this article  (from a different source) while in India, which inspired me to strive for 8 km per day.

A lone wildebeest.

But, here, 7500 steps is more practical since it’s not easy walking so many steps while indoors. Ideally, I could walk outside, but with the lions nearby and the uneven dirt roads, it makes more sense to do it indoors to avoid tripping and potential injury.

I set my timer for 20 minutes, and I do 500 steps each time it goes off. So I must pay attention to doing this for at least five or six hours a day. Sure, I could do it all at once but breaking it up seems better for me. I like to be done by 4:00 pm, 1600 hrs. In between the walking, I do the post, visit with the animals stopping by, take photos, prepare food for dinner, and do laundry. It’s a pleasant routine.

It’s around that time for us to head to Komati. We’ll be back tomorrow with more.

May your day be pleasant and fulfilling.

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

As I stepped out outside onto the veranda, I encountered this. Tom was sitting very close to this snake, eating a frog, and had no idea the snake was there. For more photos, please click here.

Early morning trip to Nelspruit…

    Our guide was prepared to begin backing up as this male elephant in musth moved closer and closer to us. Musth or must is a periodic condition in bull elephants characterized by highly aggressive behavior and accompanied by a large rise in reproductive hormones. Testosterone levels in an elephant in musth can be on average 60 times greater than in the same elephant at other times.

Yesterday afternoon we got a message from the lawyer informing us we had an appointment at the immigration office at 8:30 this morning to submit our 50 pages of documents for our visa extensions. We thought we were bypassing this step by using the law firm to assist us for some odd reason.

Had we known this, we may have done the process independently. Although, they helped ensure we had everything in order. Now we wait for about 60 days for the approval. If granted, we will have to return to Nelspruit again to get out passports stamped with the new 90-day extension. It’s quite a confusing and time-consuming process.

Elephant carrying her trunk on her tusk. Early elephants had tusks, and one idea is that as tusks became longer, it was harder and harder for elephants to get their mouths to the ground to reach the grass. The trunk on their tusk helps them to reach more food and to eat more in a shorter time.

Going through this painstaking process and avoiding flying to another country with many Covid restrictions right now saved us about US $3000, ZAR 4642. In the realm of things, it will have been worth it. Once approved, we’ll be able to stay until April 22. But if our April 8 cruise doesn’t cancel, we will be on our way by April 1 or sooner.

Our eventual departure date will depend on the cruise line’s requirements based on our coming out of South Africa.The ship sails out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The US has more Covid/Omicron cases per capita than South Africa. It will be interesting to see how that rolls out.

Elephant crossing the dirt road, trunk high in the air, sniffing for food or threats.

Our appointment at the immigration office was scheduled for 10:45 am. We arrived an hour earlier than the appointment time when Tom suggested we go right up to the fifth floor to VSF Immigration anyway, rather than kill time walking around downtown Nelspruit. That decision proved to be a great idea. We were the only applicants at the check-in point outside the door or inside the facility when we arrived.

As I write this post in the car, we expect to be back in Marloth Park by noon. We expected to be waiting in chairs for hours as we had in 2018 when we applied for an extension at that time.

Only one tusk was showing from this view. Our guide explained that when the elephant’s ears are flapped over, as shown above, it indicates an older elephant, as the ear cartilage has aged.

All and all, it wasn’t too bad. Before we left this morning, I prepped all the veggies for dinner. Once I add photos to today’s post upon returning to the house, I’ll do some laundry and catch up on my walking for the day.

We were happy to see Frank and The Misses at the veranda door at the house. We hadn’t seen either of them in almost a week, and we’ve been wondering if they’ve been busy sitting on some eggs out in the bush. It would be delightful to see little Franks and The Misses sometime soon.

The sky cleared after pelting rain when we first started.

Tom is sitting at the table on the veranda watching US football on his laptop, and I’m indoors finishing up today’s post. My timer is set to remind me to walk every 20 minutes. It’s a good day, after all.

Be well.

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

This was Tiny. We haven’t seen him since we returned from the US at the end of July. We miss him but have focused on energy on Little and other animals. For more photos, please click here.

It’s not perfection…More Kruger photos…

Could these Cape buffalos be a mom and a youngster?

When I had a “to do” list in my old life, I’d do everything on it in record time. It’s different now. I’ve let go of trying to be perfect. A goal one can never achieve. Trying to achieve perfection can leave a path of destruction in its wake. Funnily, although hard to admit to the world, I had to leave to change my ways. It wasn’t easy.

It wasn’t as if I ever thought, “Oh, I have to leave Minnesota to stop trying so hard.” But when Tom suggested we traveled the world when he retired on October 31, 2012, I was all over it. I wanted to see Africa and knew that it was my chance to fulfill a lifelong dream.

A male Cape buffalo, part of a group of “retired generals?” The African buffalo is a large sub-Saharan African bovine. Syncerus caffer caffer, the Cape buffalo, is the typical subspecies and the largest one found in Southern and East Africa. 

But, as the weeks rolled on, two thoughts came to mind after we’d decided to begin this journey. One, I could write, which I always longed to. When I retired but knew retirement in Minnesota wouldn’t be challenging enough to inspire me. Two, I could break the chains I put around myself, always striving for excellence, if not perfection. No one ever “made me” do it. It was all on me.

It took being away for a few years to realize this fully. It didn’t happen overnight. It began to transpire when we started selling or giving away all of our belongings. But, it escalated when we unloaded all of our overweight and excess luggage and all the items contained therein.

The African buffalo is not an ancestor of domestic cattle and is only distantly related to other larger bovines. Its unpredictable temperament may have been part of the reason that the African buffalo has never been domesticated, unlike its Asian counterpart, the water buffalo. Adult African buffaloes have few non-human predators aside from lions and large crocodiles. As a member of the big five game, the Cape buffalo is a sought-after trophy in hunting. Not good, as far as we’re concerned.

Shipping worldwide is costly and inconvenient, although we still do it from time to time. I’d thought we needed all of that “stuff” when we left. Now I’m content with one bag for my personal belongings, only disappointed when a favorite item wears out and the challenge of replacing it from afar becomes cumbersome.

It baffles me that I’m content without a garlic press, cookbooks, Egyptian cotton sheets, and pillowcases. But I am. It baffles me that I only have one handbag I purchased in South Africa at the shop in Lower Sabie, which soon must be replaced due to wear and tear.

Buffalos rarely have twins. Buffalos kill more hunters than any other species. Buffalos are good swimmers.

It baffles me that I promise myself to do tasks but totally excuse myself when I don’t do them and never feel guilty or burdensome on myself. I pay the bills. I manage travel arrangements and keep records. I cook nice meals, do laundry, and grocery shop. I remember friends and family members’ birthdays, staying in touch worldwide. I host social events and dinner parties from time to time.

But, I don’t wake up in the middle of the night thinking of all of the tasks awaiting me or the things I “should do.” I’m free. Recently, I started walking indoors with a goal in mind. I haven’t missed a day yet, but there’s always tomorrow when I do.

At the end of life, no one will ever say, “I wish I’d got more done! Or, I wish I’d done everything on my “to do” list.”

A “sausage” growing on a sausage tree. Kigelia is a genus of flowering plants in the family Bignoniaceae. The genus consists of only one species, Kigelia Africana, which occurs throughout tropical Africa. The so-called sausage tree grows a poisonous fruit that is up to 60 cm long, weighs about 7 kg, and resembles a sausage in a casing.

Almost three years ago, when my mortality faced me head-on with open heart surgery and a relatively poor future prognosis, I didn’t think of tasks I needed to accomplish. I have a will, and Tom knows my final wishes. Instead, I think of the people I love, family, friends, and acquaintances we’ll make along the way.

I think of my husband, partner, and best friend and how I can better his life in small ways each day. I think of the tasty plate of food I place at our table each time we eat in and smile when I see the satisfaction on Tom’s face.

The sky was quickly changing at sunset as we were on the move.

I think of the eyes on the faces of the animals that visit and how they connect with me, with us. I think of the little dance that Little does each time he sees me, shuffling his feet in a playful way, no different than a dog wagging his tail when you come home at the end of the day.

Simple. Uncomplicated. Not perfect. No pressure. No guilt. I love this life. I am grateful.

May your life be filled with the joy of the “little” things.

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

What a handsome face with young horns. Antelopes in Africa don’t have antlers. They have horns for life, never shedding them. For more photos, please click here.

More photos from Kruger National Park…Another fun night at Jabula!…Great seasoning recipe…

This is a side-striped jackal, another less frequent sighting we were delighted to encounter. The side-striped jackal is a canine native to central and southern Africa. Unlike the smaller and related black-backed jackal, which dwells in open plains, the side-striped jackal primarily dwells in woodland and scrub areas.

One year ago today, the third day since our arrival in the bush in South Africa, we had no power for 19 hours and no WiFi. We are enjoying today without any outages, a strong WiFi signal, and a slightly cooler yet humid day. Often, this time of year, the temperature may only be in the 80Fs, 27Cs, but the humidity can be outrageously high, making us sweat until the sun goes down.

The kori bustard is a ground-dweller, hence the name bustard, meaning birds that walk. They have a majestic walk with measured strides. They prefer to walk away from danger and fly only when necessary because of their weight. They take off with hefty wing beats, but they fly quickly and strongly once airborne.

Nonetheless, it’s a good day. I’ve already prepped all the vegetables and ingredients for tonight’s taco salad dinner and only have to prepare the lettuce and cook the mince (hamburger meat) as soon as it defrosts enough to fit in the pan. I made the taco seasoning from scratch early this morning, using the ingredients listed below.

Those little packets of taco seasoning contain many chemicals and wheat, none of which we care to eat. Here is a simple recipe that takes only a few minutes to put together.

Marabou storks I first encountered at the old dump in Marloth Park in 2014. The marabou stork is a large wading bird in the stork family Ciconiidae. It breeds in both wet and arid habitats in Africa south of the Sahara, often near human habitation, especially landfill sites.
Low Carb Taco Seasoning
Ingredients
4 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoon cumin
4 teaspoons paprika
4 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoon dried onion or onion powder
2 teaspoon oregano
2 teaspoon black pepper
Instructions
Add all the spices to a mason jar or large zip-seal bag. Close and shake or stir until fully combined. Store in an air-tight container in a cool, dry place for up to 1 year.
Notes
Use 2 tablespoons for every packet of taco seasoning called for in a recipe or for every pound of meat with no additional salt added. Use 1/2 tablespoon to season 1/4 pound of meat if making individual servings. The individual serving size is about 1/2 tablespoon.

Nutrition
Serving: 8serving (1/2 tbsp) | Calories: 15kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 616mg | Potassium: 78mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 849IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 19mg | Iron: 1mg

Table setting at the boma in Kruger National Park. There we just the eight of us as guests, with several staff members serving and assisting.

This is so easy to make. This morning,  I added sliced olives, diced onions, grape tomatoes cut in half, and chopped lettuce in individual containers. I’ll soon cook the meat until no blood remains, draining it in a strainer, placing it back into the pan, adding seasonings as stated above, based on how much meat I am cooking.

Our plates of meat were delicious.

Then, I add about one cup of water for about 4 pounds, 2.2 kg of meat. Let the meat simmer until most of the water is absorbed, usually about 20 minutes. While the meat is simmering, I cut up one small avocado to serve atop my salad. Serve right away, layering your salad as you’d like. I add a dollop of sour cream to my salad, but Tom doesn’t add any dressing. Some may prefer to add salsa. Cool the meat slightly before refrigerating. It will keep in the fridge for four days or freeze in Ziplock individual servings.

There were several vegetable options, some without sauces which I selected.

OK, enough about food for you non-foodies. Oh, oh, one more thing about food. Last night, Rita, Gerhard, Petra, Fritz and Tom, and I went to Jabula for another enjoyable time together. We lounged at the bar for a while, ordered our dinner while at the bar, and then sat at the usual table for six that Dawn always saves for us and any group of six we may have to join us.

The food is consistently delicious, and the hosts divine, which brings us back over and over again. We never tire of dining and spending time at that great restaurant, unlike any other we tried throughout the world. The bar reminds us of the TV series Cheers, where “everyone knows your name.” And the food never disappoints.

This is the beautiful European roller. The European roller is the only member of the roller family of birds to breed in Europe. Its overall range extends into the Middle East, Central Asia, Africa, and Morocco. The European roller is found in various habitats, avoiding only treeless plains. They migrate to South Africa from Europe each summer season. That’s a long flight!

When we returned home, we settled in for the night, watched an episode of a series on my laptop, and drifted off to sleep by midnight.

Today will be a quiet day. I continue faithfully with my new walking regime and haven’t missed a day since I started on January 1st. I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions, but this year was different. I needed to start walking more for my health.

Be well.

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

These two piglets were Barbara and Lori, who are now almost full-grown and visit each day. This mom is now Tail-less Mom who recently lost her tail to an injury. For more photos, please click here.