Finally, they came to call, eight months later!!!…

When peering out the kitchen window, we saw this image in the front of our house.

Yesterday was quite eventful in our garden. While stopping in the kitchen to refresh his iced tea, Tom said, “Hurry, get the camera! There’s a giraffe in the driveway!”

We hadn’t seen a giraffe in the driveway since we arrived in Marloth Park in January when we moved into this holiday home. Six or seven giraffes were at the end of the driveway on the road, and we took several photos, hoping at some point they’d come to our garden for a visit. Now, eight months later, they finally came to call.

Not only were they in the driveway, but they were standing close to the house. The tricky part was taking photos since giraffes don’t interact with humans for food, like the other wildlife. They eat the leaves at the top of trees and don’t bend down for pellets or other food offerings from humans.

There were a total of three giraffes, two that stayed in the bush and the one that dared to get close to the house for the tree he found worthy of the risk.

Subsequently, they are as shy here in Marloth Park as they are in Kruger National Park. They tolerate cars passing, but don’t care to interact with humans on foot. When we opened the front door, I could barely get a quick photo when they thundered off, kicking up dust on our dirt driveway.

We decided to leave the front door open since it makes noise upon opening and be patient and wait. They were obviously after the lush green vegetation at the top of a tree close to the kitchen window. We waited patiently. Although we couldn’t get good photos based on their hesitancy around us, we managed to get the few we’re sharing here today.

After all, being within three or four meters of the giant animals is exciting in itself. Where in the world is that possible in the wild? Where in the world is that possible, close to your front door? Nowhere that we know, other than Marloth Park or another game reserve in Africa.

It’s hard to believe we can be so close to these majestic animals.

Once they’ve discovered such an “edible” tree, we feel confident they will return at some point. The question becomes: will we happen to be looking out the kitchen window to spot them when they do? In the future, we’ll make a unique point of looking out the front of the house, as opposed to the usual back garden where most of the animals visit. With the dense brush, it may be hard for them to navigate their way back there.

This holiday home consists of very dense bush surrounding the property lines. It’s an excellent factor for privacy and noise reduction but less appealing for giraffes and zebras who seem to avoid getting tangled in the low-lying branches, which warthogs, bushbucks, wildebeests, and kudus, who don’t seem to mind.  They’ll maneuver through any dense bush to get to some pellets.

We’d hoped they’d stay around longer. But, in their typical manner, they ate and moved on in search of more vegetation.

Whereas giraffes don’t bend to the ground to eat, although they bend to drink. Here’s exciting information about giraffe’s eating habits from this site:

“Four facts about giraffe’s eating habits:

The giraffe is the world’s tallest terrestrial animal and thrives on a diet of fresh greens. These curious creatures tower above the bushveld and, despite their gangly appearance and awkward gait, they move with ease through their environment. They survive in arid landscapes, savanna, and open plains; and vary in size and color depending on their region.

The next time you’re in a game viewer and come across a giraffe devouring greenery, take a moment to observe their eating habits. Here are four facts about a giraffe’s eating habits that will ensure you have a deeper understanding of their dietary habits.

1. Giraffes don’t need to compete for food.

Giraffes are browsers that feed off fresh shoots and leaves, and their height advantage means they have access to plenty of foliage that other herbivores cannot reach. The only other animal that can reach into the giraffe feeding zone is the elephant. The pachyderms stretch upwards and reach branches with their trunks, also allowing them to grapple lush greens outside of the zone of other browsers. The male giraffe is always in an enviable position, given that they are almost always taller than their female counterparts! There’s not much competition for food sources with these delightfully curious terrestrial animals.

2. Giraffes eat old bones.

When herbivore animals eat bones, it is commonly referred to as osteophagia. The reason for digesting such unpalatable items is purely to supplement their diet with calcium and phosphorus. If their diet lacks nutrients, giraffes will bend down to the ground to scrounge for old bones. They will then chew/twirl the bones in their mouth to extract as many minerals as possible.

Goodbye giraffes! It was great to see you here!

3. Giraffe’s favorite food is acacia. But acacia trees talk. 

The bushveld is dotted with African acacia trees, which have juicy leaves and a thorny spine. Giraffes use their prehensile tongue to grip the leaves and extract the greenery without disturbing the thorny bits. Because this is their favorite meal, it means that our tall creatures tend to journey towards belts of acacia. Acacia will release an excess of tannins when under threat from overfeeding, and this compound leaves the greenery tasting incredibly bitter. The other trees will recognize the tannin release as an alarm system and follow suit. Giraffes activate the natural alarm system in acacia trees – a truly fascinating fact!

4. When a giraffe drinks water, it’s quite a process. 

Giraffes only drink every few days and gain most of their moisture from their herbivorous diet. When they do drink, they approach their water source with caution. They scan their environment for potential threats, hesitate, stand for a while, and then decide to drink. The giraffe will open its legs quite wide, bend its knees and lower its neck to lap up water, which leaves them in quite a vulnerable position and at the mercy of predators.”

In any case, we are thrilled they stopped by, and we’ll make every effort to spot them again when and if they stop by to munch on the green trees in the front garden.

Have a lovely day!

Photo from one year ago today, September 18, 2020:

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #179. Our glass table was set and ready for our dinner guests in Kenya’s outdoor living/dining room in 2013.  The landlord, Hans, and his wife, Jeri, were coming for dinner. With no Windex or glass cleaner in the grocery stores, I’ve had a heck of a time cleaning the glass tabletop. I asked Hesborn, our houseman, how he could clean it so well with no streaks. He said he uses soap and water on a rag, drying it with a dry towel. I tried this method, only to end up with streaks. For more photos, please click here.

Fantastic outing this morning…An old friend visits the garden…

Notice the little spoked tuft of hair on the top of the email duiker’s head. So adorable.

Yes, it’s a late start to today’s post. This morning at 9:00, Tom dropped me off outside Louise and Danie’s Info Centre, and friend Kathy picked me up. We headed to her favorite morning spot, Stoep Cafe, located on the main street in Komatipoort. Years ago, Tom and I went there every so often for breakfast. But, as of late, neither of us has been hungry for breakfast, and we haven’t stopped there at all since we arrived in January.

Once Kathy and I arrived at Stoep Cafe, Kathy’s regular table was waiting for her. She’s a frequent customer, and I was thrilled to share this particular time with her. This was the first time it had been just the two of us since she arrived in early July, and we couldn’t have been more chatty in catching up after not seeing each other much in the past two years, mainly due to Covid-19.

Old Man wasn’t looking his best.

The time flew by, and before we knew it, we were back at Louise’s parking lot where Tom was waiting for me after I’d sent him a message on WhatsApp. Kathy and I said our goodbyes, knowing we’d see each other again soon, while Tom and I entered the Info Centre to chat with Louis and Danie. As always, it was delightful to see the two of them, as well.

After sharing interesting tidbits about our mutual days and nights since seeing them for dinner a week ago, Tom and I headed back to our bush house to find several animals waiting for us in the garden, including an old friend from before we left for the US at the end of June, two wildebeests, Hal and his constant partner, Old Man, who must be the oldest wildebeest in Marloth Park.

Upon further inspection, we noticed his face and stunted horns were covered in mud.

As shown in today’s photos, taken only a short time ago, Old Man was a mess this time. His face and stubby horns, obviously diminished in size due to years of use, were covered in mud. We couldn’t help but laugh but, then again, we were saddened to see how he improvises in digging up roots for consumption, using the stubby horns he’s acquired over the years.

Tom tossed them several containers of pellets and paid attention to the several bushbucks in the garden along with one adorable female duiker, as shown in the photos.  Duikers are very shy, and the slightest noise or motion will send them off in seconds into the bush, never to be seen again.

Whenever Old Man visits he brings this younger wildebeest with him that may be his son or even grandson whom we call “Hal.”

Gingerly, Tom sent some pellets her way, and for the first time in a long time, I was able to take a photo of a duiker, especially a female with her adorable little tuft of hair on the center of her head, as shown in our photo and described here from this site:

“The common duiker has many common names, including common, grey, and Grimm’s duiker. The name ‘duiker’ is derived from the Afrikaans word ‘duik’ meaning ‘to dive’ due to its characteristic porpoising flight pattern. Common duiker is identifiable by their slate grey color, which in some areas varies to include shades of red and yellow. They have a tuft of dark hair between the horns, or just on the head in the case of the females as horns are absent, and a dark stripe down the center of the face. The preorbital glands in front of the eyes are conspicuous and exude a tarry secretion probably used in scent marking. Unlike steenbok, they tend to live in areas with lots of bushy covers, who prefer open areas. It is into this cover that they dart and dive when disturbed. They have excellent hearing, which alerts them to disturbances.”

A wildebeest’s eyes are high up on his face. Notice Old Man’s eyes by zooming in. Obviously, Old Man wasn’t having a great day.

With only 56 days until we depart Marloth Park, South Africa. It was fun to be taking new photos of less common sightings when we consider how tired many of our readers may become of the endless flow of frequent sightings. We are especially mindful of every photo and story we post in the future.

Before we know it, our photos will be from Arizona, USA where we’ll always be on the search for new and exciting photos. It won’t always be easy without wildlife surrounding us but, as always, we’ll do our best.

Tonight, we’ll stay in and enjoy a quiet day and evening with our animal friends. We’ll listen to more music on our new speaker as mentioned in yesterday’s post, quietly enough to avoid disturbing the wildlife and any distant neighbors. Since yesterday, we learned more about the Bluetooth speaker. We paired it with both our phones and laptops. Now, anything we watch or listen to, can be broadcast, loud and clear, a big boon for Tom’s hearing issues and also, when some streaming shows have a low volume, that previously required that we use a splitter to wear earbuds. Nice.

Have a pleasant day!

Photo from one year ago today,  August 26, 2020:

This photo was posted one year ago today while in lockdown in Mumbai, India on day #156. Although our room was larger than a ship cabin, it was small as shown in this photo. For more photos, please click here.

Day #4, no water…No power?…We knew what to expect in Africa…

A young giraffe and a few zebras blocking the road on our way to Jabula.

Note: All of today’s photos were taken last evening while going to Jabula Lodge and Restaurant for our usual Friday night dinner out. It was such fun to see these amazing animals blocking the road while all drivers waited patiently for them to pass. Tom and I both said simultaneously, “Where in the world do you see such a sight?” Nowhere that we know of. What a delight!

We had no delusions about what to expect coming to Africa. Our expectations were low, with poverty, crime, and corruption raging through many African countries, including South Africa. Most tourists come to South Africa to experience its wildlife and beauty and don’t stay long enough to get caught up in its downside.

Power, water, and WiFi outages are to be expected rather than viewed as an anomaly. The time spent by various providers to repair such issues can be far beyond what we may be used to in other countries. It’s unlike anything most of us have experienced in the past.

Everyone waited patiently for the animals to clear the road.

This morning as I first began preparing this post, the power went out. No water. No power. Of course, when the power goes out, so does the WiFi. I suggested to Tom that it would be a good time to drive to the pharmacy in Komatipoort. I needed a prescription for antibiotics filled when the tooth for which I’d had a root canal was still hurting from six weeks ago.

Yesterday, I contacted Dr. Singh, and he wrote me a prescription. I had initially refused antibiotics hoping it would heal on its own. I’d had enough antibiotics for my teeth in the past year or more. But, after six weeks, he said it was imperative. If the drugs don’t work after the five-day cycle, I’ll have to have the tooth pulled. It’s the last molar on the bottom right, and I suppose I won’t bother to get an implant when the missing tooth won’t be noticeable when I smile or talk.

We drove to Komati, got the prescription filled, and headed back home. All the while, we were wondering what we’ll do for dinner tonight. The dishwasher is filled with dirty dishes, and with a single sink in the kitchen, even if we boiled water, it would be cumbersome trying to rinse everything.  I told Tom to forget it. It’s not worth the hassle. We’ll use paper plates or eat out until the water comes back on.

Several giraffes were waiting to make their next move while on the side of the road.

Speaking of dining out, last night we went to Jabula for dinner. The receptionist, Danienne, for Dr. Singh in Malalane, brought the prescription to me since she lives in Marloth Park and, like us, she loves going to Jabula on Friday nights. We thanked her profusely and bought her and her friend a drink.

We ended up dining at the bar we’ve done before when it’s just the two of us. Dawn and Leon were both there, and we had lots of fun with them and other guests while we sat at the bar. Arriving at 1700 hrs, 5:00 pm, by 2030 hrs, 8:30 pm, we were out the door and headed back home for a pleasant remainder of the evening, streaming a few episodes of Netflix series.

Neither of us was in the mood for a day and night without power, water and WiFi. So, this morning when we returned from Komati, around 11:00 am, the power was restored, which made us both very relieved. Now, at almost noon, we are so grateful to have power and WiFi that we aren’t fussing so much over the water.

If it were a nice day, we would have gone to Kruger. But it’s drizzling off and on, and we’ll stay put.  Gosh, it’s hard to believe we’ll be leaving South Africa two months from today to head back to the US once again. If you missed our story yesterday as to why we are returning to the US for a short stint, please click here.

Every zebra has its own unique markings, not unlike a fingerprint. Note the unique patterns around this zebra’s eyes.

A special thanks to many of our readers who have written to us in support of this tough decision, all of which was precipitated by the difficultly of travel throughout the world right now. Sure, it may be easier to travel for a one or two-week vacation, but with us frequently being on the move or even staying in one location for a few months, Covid-19 has certainly put a damper on our desire to visit many countries.

Plus, news about restrictions and quarantine requirements seems to change daily. We are not interested in losing more money due to this pandemic than we already have, which is well into the thousands of dollars.  We’re still hoping our five scheduled cruises beginning at the end of February 2022 will actually set sail and allow us to continue on our world travel path and objectives. Only time will tell.

May your travel goals and objectives also be realized over the next year, when we all hope and pray for a better outcome than being experienced now.

Photo from one year ago today, August 21, 2020:

From the year-ago post while in lockdown in Mumbai, India, on day #151. One of many towers at Peterhof Fountain Park and Gardens in St. Petersburg, Russia. For more photos, please click here.

Busy morning in the bush…Paid off a debt hanging over our heads…

This is our boy, Torn Ear. So adorable.

This morning’s visitors were plentiful. We had no less than eight bushbucks, seven warthogs, 50 mongooses, and Frank and The Misses. Tom was busy feeding everyone while I showered and dressed for the day. Once done, I was outdoors and joined in on the feeding and usual chatting with the wildlife.

It’s odd to think about talking to wild animals, but many of them look into my eyes, tilt their heads, flick their ears in response to the gentle, albeit high-pitched voice. No, they don’t necessarily know what I am saying, but I often repeatedly use the exact words, and they may quickly become familiar with those words.

Lots of mongooses this morning!

At this point, the most frequent warthog visitors do a little dance when I say, “Do you want some pellets?’ It’s not different than asking your dog, “Do you want to eat or go for a walk?” Pigs are listed as smarter than dogs. Is it any wonder that the warthogs and other wildlife would eventually associate my words with actions after a while? It’s not surprising to me at all.

The most significant joy of interacting with the wildlife is the way they make eye contact. As I’ve mentioned in the past, zebras don’t seem to make that same type of eye contact. I genuinely believe that the lack of emotional interaction with them is why we seldom see them in our garden, although they do visit from time to time.

In today’s heading, I’ve mentioned the payoff of a debt hanging over our heads. When I had open-heart surgery in February 2019, and our then insurance company refused to pay, we had to pay the entire balance out of pocket. After we paid off the bulk of it, we had a remaining balance which we agreed to pay monthly to the tune of ZAR 10000, US $678, a month.

Big Daddy stopped by.

On Friday, I made the final payment. The actual US dollar amount varied monthly based on the rand (ZAR) value, but we chose to pay in rands rather than US dollars, which ultimately saved us some money. We could have used personal funds to pay this off, but it made sense to pay it off this way when no interest was charged. Now that this is finalized we can put this behind us.

We used a credit card each month to make the payment using a South Africa payment app through a bank, but we paid off that card every month, as we usually do, avoiding any interest charges. It feels good to have this behind us since we have no debts, without a home or car and accompanying lifestyle.

Being debt-free is a good reason why we always strive to live within our means. That way, we never have to worry about money which can be an enormous stressor. Sure, from time to time, we’ve charged substantial amounts on our credit cards to pay for expensive cruises, but we’ve always managed to pay them off quickly.

Bossy drank from the pool as opposed to the birdbath.

I easily recall being a single mom while owning a business subject to the ebb and flow of the housing market and how financial struggles kept me awake at night. I never stop appreciating how fortunate we are these days, not to worry about money. But, here again, we live on a tight fixed income, and foolish spending is not within our realm.

Speaking of spending, finally, after 12 days, we’re going grocery shopping once again. Having dined out several times during this period and using all the meat we had in the freezer, we made it through. But today, we’re down to the “bare bones,” and grocery shopping is a must.

That’s it for today, dear readers. And thank you for all the kind and thoughtful messages regarding yesterday’s post about losing my sister, Susan, one year ago while we were in lockdown in Mumbai.

Be well. Be safe. Be happy.

Photo from one year ago today, August 16, 2020:

One year ago, this photo was posted in lockdown in Mumbai, India, on day #146. With almost 13,000 restaurants listed on Trip Advisor in Paris, it’s tricky deciding on where to dine. For more photos, please click here.

Hippo photos from Kruger National Park…How do we feel about zoos?….

Could this be Mom, Dad, and Baby?

There’s no question about it; observing animals in the wild is unlike any other wildlife experience. Sure, we grasp the importance of zoos to provide the public, who May never visit Africa, to learn about their existence, conservation, and habitat. Reading from a book hardly provides an in-depth experience.

With more and more zoos throughout the world considering the well-being and conservation of wildlife while in their care, we animal-lovers are often less concerned and horrified about zoo habitats than we may have been years ago. Throughout our almost nine years of world travel, we have visited some “wildlife rehab centers” with the intent of feeling comfortable about the care and feeding of indigenous and non-indigenous wild animals.

A group of hippos is called a “bloat.” How appropriate!  Ungainly as it is, the hippopotamus is the world’s deadliest large land mammal, killing an estimated 500 people per year in Africa. Hippos are aggressive creatures, and they have very sharp teeth. And you would not want to get stuck under one; at up to 2,750kg, 5053 pounds, they can crush a human to death.

In about half of the cases, we’ve been pleased with what we’ve seen. But, there have been cases where animals are treated as commodities, kept in small cages, unable to wander freely, and fed a poor diet, unsuitable for the species. These scenarios are undoubtedly criminal, as are the people who keep exotic animals in cages and pens on their property for bragging rights.

But, we have seen some fantastic zoos/rescue centers where the wildlife is provided ample space, companionship when suitable, and foods they may have foraged in the wild, along with quality medical care for rehabilitation purposes and daily care.

A lone hippo was sniffing for food.

Many such facilities claim they have the intention of returning the rehabilitated animals to the wild. But after seeing how professionally and carefully that process is undertaken by the local Wild & Free Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre by curator Deidre and her support staff, we doubt many such facilities are willing or capable of returning animals to the wild with the care and diligence we’ve witnessed by this local facility.

One of the main factors preventing a triumphant return to the wild is excessive bonding with humans, especially when animals may become dependent upon care from humans, preventing them from foraging. If an animal has been fed while living in a cage for an extended period, it’s unlikely it’ll ever be able to hunt for food, resulting in an untimely and painful death.

We were surprised by how many hippos we saw in one day.

Yesterday, while in Kruger, it was rewarding to see the wildlife appearing robust and healthy. Although this has been a dry winter and the bush here in Marloth Park, there are many green areas, enabling the herbivore and omnivore animals to find sufficient vegetation to survive and the carnivores able to hunt for healthy sources of food.

The problem with animals in Marloth Park, which prompts many of us to feed them during the winter months, is that they don’t have access to distant, greener, richer areas to forage. Although Marloth Park is almost seven square miles, 3000 hectares, 7413 acres, it isn’t large enough during the dry season to fully support the needs of the abundant wildlife. That fact results in many of us choosing to feed as much as we can afford.

We’ve always loved the gurgling sounds of hippos which were in abundance on yesterday’s self-drive.

Many disagree with humans feeding the animals in Marloth Park. But, based on these circumstances, many of us feel compelled to do so. Seeing the animals with full bellies as they wander from bush house to bush house gives many of us great comfort in knowing they are eating. Right now, the bush is brown and dry.

This morning, I noticed Bossy eating a non-indigenous plant that survived thus far this winter in an attempt to eat some “greenery,” of which there is little. It’s a tough scenario when the wildlife starts eating the equivalent of “house plants.” It becomes impossible for many of us to avoid feeding them. Of course, there are two schools of thought on this topic, the other being “let nature take its course” and all that it entails. Perhaps it’s our own selfish desire to prevent that course since we don’t want to see it. Understood.

The narrow, single-lane bridge over the Crocodile River toward the entrance to Kruger National Park.

We’re thrilled to share these hippo photos today, and over the next few days, we have plenty of other species photos to share.

Soon, I’m off with Fiona for another pedicure while her significant other, friend Alan, will visit with Tom while she and I are gone. It should be a fun afternoon in the bush.

May you have a rewarding and meaningful day!

Photo from one year ago today, August 12, 2020:

This photo from the courtyard of Le Louvre in Paris was posted one year ago while in lockdown in Mumbai, India, on day #142. As we peered outside from a window, there didn’t appear to be many visitors in the courtyard. Most of them were already inside, trying to take photos of the more famous works of art. For more photos, please click here.

Old habits never die…Baking sweet desserts…

Mom and Baby bushbuck fussing over each other. So sweet.

Today is Sunday of the National Women’s Day Holiday weekend, and our garden is seriously lacking in any activity. So far today, we’ve only seen two duikers who were too shy to approach for pellets or apple peels, a few annoying Vervet monkey that Tom shooed away, and a few loyal bushbucks.

This is one of our favorite bushbucks, Thick Neck, also known as Bad Leg. He still limps on his back right leg, but it seems to be improving.

On my feet in the kitchen for the last 90 minutes, I needed to sit on the bed with my feet up to recover from standing so long. Since I was still yet to fully heal from the virus (unknown), standing for so long was exhausting. We’d bought tons of apples with the intent of bringing a Gluten-Free Apple Crisp to Kathy and Don’s house with me making an extra to keep at home for Tom.

The event at Kathy and Don’s was canceled with Gerhard and I both being sick, and the apples needed to be used. Of course, I knew if I wasn’t feeling well enough to make Tom at least one  apple crisp, we’d certainly cut up the apples for the wildlife, who absolutely love apples. (Broken Horn and Little eat them whole).

This bushbuck is named “Holey Moley.” She has a black mole on her right bottom lip and several moles on the back of her neck. She’s a daily visitor! She’s munching on cabbage.

But, with few visitors, I decided today was the day to make one of Tom’s favorite desserts, which is baking in the oven now. He’d lost a lot of weight lately, and since he’s easily able to maintain, he deserved a treat, which will last for several days in the refrigerator. Later, after dinner, he’ll reheat a good-sized portion in the microwave and top it with a generous dollop of vanilla ice cream. I will be drooling watching him eat this tasty dessert which I also loved in my old life.

If I have enough energy after resting comfortably in the bedroom while preparing today’s post, I might make myself my favorite Low Carb Cheese Pie (yep, not a cake, but a pie, made inside a delicious almond flour crust). Usually, when I make one for me, I also make one for Louise and Danie, who eat like me, which Tom can drop off later. I decide if I am up to it after a while.

With holidaymakers in the park right now, we only see bushbucks and a few warthogs in the garden.

Tom is outside on the veranda, listening to his favorite podcast, Garage Logic from Minnesota. It’s only on Monday through Friday, but often, on the weekends, he catches up. As mentioned earlier, his name is mentioned toward the end of each episode. He sends them a new story each day, entitled “This Day in Minnesota History,” which they read on the air, always mentioning Tom’s name and commenting about the “traveling Lyman’s, currently in Marloth Park, Mpumalanga, South Africa.”

It always makes us laugh! From time to time, Tom hears from listeners who think his daily contribution is fun. While we were in the US, Tom shared that we were in various cities during our visit including, Eden Prairie, MN, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, then Henderson, Nevada.

Mom and Baby bushbuck stop by daily, even during this busy time.

The show’s hosts chuckled when they saw that we were back in Marloth Park, Mpumalanga, South Africa, four weeks later, as Tom diligently continued to send them the stories each weekday. These “mentions” on the show are a source of enjoyment for both of us, let alone the newsy information and opinions they share during each podcast.

The handy timer on my Fitbit Sense went off for the third time as I strive to get the baking done perfectly for the apple crisp. I made a big batch, and it’s taking over an hour to bake, leaving the top a toasty brown. Below is a photo of the finished product.

Homemade Gluten-Free Apple Crisp.

It felt good to be baking, which I prefer over making savory meals. But, with our usual way of eating (always for me, less so for Tom), baking sweet desserts isn’t something I often do. But, today, it felt satisfying and comforting in a way only an enthusiastic baker would understand.

Now that I’ve smelled and seen the result of my baking efforts with the apple crisp, I’m ready to tackle those two Low Carb Cheese Pies so that tonight when Tom eats his dessert, I’ll have a slice of mine. Tom will drop off Louise and Danie’s pie when they return home later today.

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, August 8, 2020:

This one-year-ago photo was posted while we were in lockdown in Mumbai, India, on day #138. There were many photo-taking tourists in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles in Paris, France, in 2014. For more photos, please click here.

Good to get out and see friends…Few wildlife sightings during holiday weekend…

Bossy and her family.

Most of the holiday homes in Marloth Park were rented this weekend due to National Women’s Day, as described in yesterday’s post at this link. As a result, there are few animals in our garden today. Sadly, as mentioned in previous posts, some visitors feed the animals foods that aren’t good for them, which they may love. It could include;  chips (fries), potato chips, leftovers from meals, and even sweets and candy, which are not suitable for any wildlife’s diet.

May be an image of road
Not our photo. Last year, this photo was on Facebook of holidaymakers in a queue waiting to get into Marloth Park on holiday.

In that regard, they are like humans; bad-for-you foods are tasty and irresistible. And, animals don’t know that these food aren’t good for them, although humans do. And yet, they continue to feed these inappropriate foods while visiting Marloth Park.

Then, of course, those who care about the well-being of the animals have purchased pellets, Lucerne bales, apples, carrots, and fresh green suitable for the animal’s diet. The bush is so dry there is barely a leaf on a tree or bush with the vegetation the animals usually eat. It’s nearly impossible for many of us not to offer some sustenance during the drought-like months of winter.

Thick Neck/Bad Leg in the garden with Broken Horn and a warthog.

The fire hazard is at its peak right now, with many restrictions in place regarding bonfires and open braais. We often wonder if holidaymakers properly put out fires, even when confined to an appropriate container such as a wood-burning braai (grill). Right now, bonfires are forbidden.

Already, many animals have been killed on the road. Last night, after driving home from Jabula after a lovely dinner with Rita and Gerhard, we couldn’t help but notice the road packed with cars, many of which were exceeding the posted speed limit. As Tom drove home, there was a speeding car dangerously close to the rear of our car. If Tom had to stop suddenly for an animal, he mentioned we could have been rear-ended, and an animal could have been killed in the process, let alone potential injury for us.

Broken Horn loves napping and lounging in our garden and driveway. We usually see him a few times each day. But, not yet, today.

Not all of them are like this, but many are, and on occasion, it may be locals failing to observe the speed limit. With little police presence in Marloth Park, many ignore the laws. Multiple security vehicles may be present at night, but they aren’t able to arrest careless drivers. It’s this type of behavior that makes us leery of holidaymakers.

Are we fully recovered? Not quite yet. Tom is healing nicely from his tooth extractions, and his cough is minimal. Mine is still lingering with a cough and major congestion. I don’t believe I am still contagious after, but I paid special attention to steering clear of close contact with our friends and other diners at Jabula last night.

One of the larger female bushbucks we’ve seen.

We’ll continue to lay low over the weekend, not only to avoid contact with the huge tourist crowd but to continue to rest and recover from this dreadful virus. This morning, albeit still weak, I made a big pan of Low Carb Cheesy Chicken, Sausage, and Mushroom Casserole, enough to last for three nights. We prepped a pot of rice for Tom and a cabbage salad for me as side dishes. Tom cleaned up after me, which reduced my time in the kitchen.

All we have to do is mix the salad and bake the casserole in the oven about an hour before we’re ready to eat. Most likely, we’ll spend the evening indoors streaming a few shows on my laptop. Right now, we’re wrapped up in an excellent British TV series on Hulu entitled, The Split. Once completed, we’ll move on to a few others we’re looking forward to, including newly added seasons of a few favorites, such as Line of Duty, Succession, and more

Have a pleasing Saturday and be well.

Photo from one year ago today, August 7, 2020:

One year ago today, while in lockdown in Mumbai, India, on day #137, we posted photos from Versailles in Paris in 2014 during a rainstorm. Astounding view! The crane in the photo is in an area where the palace is under renovation. For more photos, please click here.

Busy morning in the bush!…Trip to Malalane to the dentist and more…No bag yet!…

    When we returned from Malalane, these mongoose and more were awaiting us in the garden. Quickly, Tom began beating some eggs for them.

Tom caught a bad cold on the plane, which has been improving rapidly over the past 24 hours. He took cough medicine with codeine at night, which helps for about three hours, and an antihistamine every 12 hours. With us both suffering from severe lack of sleep from the nine-hour time difference, more than anything, we both needed a good night’s sleep.

As was the case when we arrived in Minnesota, it took three or four nights until we finally got the sleep we needed. Last night, three nights after our arrival, we were each able to sleep for eight hours. Today, now at almost 2:00 pm, 1400 hrs, we both feel a little like taking a nap, which, when done here today, we may do. I am not one for naps, but the past few days, it’s been tempting.

We are well aware that mongoose may carry rabies and also may bite, causing severe infections. We proceed with caution around them.

At the end of June, I had a root canal treatment done by fabulous Dr. Singh, the favored oral surgeon of all of our local friends. The tooth had been infected, as I thought, and Dr. Singh suggested I take antibiotics. After taking antibiotics a few times in the past year, I declined to take them and was willing to wait it out.

Tom brought out the big pan of scrambled eggs, which they love.

After having the procedure a week before we left for the US, I had pain that seemed to last for days. Finally, it tapered off, and I was only left with tenderness when I brushed my teeth. Before leaving the US to return to South Africa, I contacted Dr. Singh to ask if the ongoing pain was an issue. He suggested I come in so he could check it. That’s precisely what we did this morning.

The tooth is healing, and he suggested we wait until the pain is gone to do the crown. I have another tooth that could use a new crown, so sometime in the next month or so, I’ll return and have both crowns done, requiring two appointments. Dental work is so inexpensive here; it makes sense to get these done while here.

A pile of mongoose eating raw scrambled eggs from the pan.

On another note, included in our missing bag was a new pair of jeans I’d purchased while in the US. At this point, I don’t have a single pair of jeans. After the dentist, we stopped at a local shop in Malalane, and I purchased one pair of jeans and two warm shirts, both suitable for cold weather.

It wasn’t easy to find a pair that fit me right. Sizing is very different here. But, after trying on several pairs, I managed to find something suitable. Also, I bought two warm tops that will be useful when we go out at night when the temperature drops, and it’s so cold.

What a joy to see Broken Horn once again. It only took him three days to find his way back to us.

Buildings and houses aren’t heated in South Africa since the winter season is short, and then the rest of the months are hot and humid. When we’ve been so tired over the past several days and nights and feeling especially cold, we had to bundle up with blankets to get comfortable. I’ve even worn socks to bed.

We don’t have room in our bags for bathrobes, resulting in frigid mornings when showering and getting dressed. While in the hotel overnight in Joburg on Sunday, there was no hot water, and we both had to take cold showers that morning we left. That was one chilly morning! Fortunately, I have fashioned some leggings and long-sleeved tee-shirts into what I use as pajamas.

Several kudus stopped by this morning. More and more are returning each day.

Today, we all are pleasantly surprised with a warm day. Right now, it is 82F, 28C, and it’s perfect. No doubt, by tonight, the temperatures will drop again to a low of 59F, 15C. Although that doesn’t sound very cold, it feels very cool when there’s no heat indoors. The past several days have been 10 degrees cooler. Our teeth were chattering.

Last night, Tom fell asleep at 7:00 am, 1900 hrs. I stayed awake until 10:30 pm, 2230 hrs, or later trying to fend off the temptation to fall asleep for as long as I could. It worked; although I awoke at 1:00 am and stayed awake for 90 minutes, Tom had to wake me this morning for the dentist appointment. It is good to feel like my “old self.”

Together, Frank and The Misses are back.

As for the missing bag, last night I called United Airlines again to hear the same report. The bag is on its way to us. But, we don’t feel confident when today is the fourth day since the bag was lost in Newark or Johannesburg. We can only wait and see what transpires.

Many more of our old animal friends have been dropping by. This morning we saw Broken Horn, many bushbucks, mongoose, and several kudus. A short while ago, Frank and The Misses were here eating seeds and drinking water from their little container. We didn’t see Little or Tiny yesterday but hopefully, this late afternoon, they will return. Each day is filled with surprises!

Have a pleasant day and evening and be well.

Photo from one year ago today, July 29, 2020:

From the year-ago post on this date while on day #128 in lockdown in Mumbai, India. We were at the Kampong Cham Temple in Cambodia on this date in 2016. For more photos, please click here.

A soaking rain in the bush…Good for the animals…Our ads…A photo shortage…

Lots of pigs!!!

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 8 warthogs – inc. Little, Lonely Girl, Lonely Boy, Fred, and Ethel, and Peter, Paul, and Mary,
  • 9 bushbucks – inc. Chewy, Thick Neck/Bad Leg, Spikey, and others
  • 6 kudus – inc. Bossy, Notches, and others
  • 1 wildebeest – inc. Broken Horn
  • 2 Frank and The Misses

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There are always bushbucks in the garden, even at night seen on the trail cam.

There are annual fees for all of these services and features, and we hoped to offset some of the costs by implementing an advertiser program. Slowly, our revenue is increasing but not enough yet to cover the expenses. It may take a year or more to reach such a status.

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We are always thrilled to see kudus and, of course, their youngsters, as shown here.

On another note, the past week, our photo ops in the garden have been fewer, not due to fewer animals in the garden but only due to my failing to take many photos. When photos appear to be blatant repeats, I tend to avoid taking them. As of the next few days, when the rain stops, our goal will be to find more exciting photos to share here.

Also, we will strive to take plenty of photos while in the US, in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Nevada. However, to respect our family member’s privacy, we won’t burden them with posing for photos too often. Also, some prefer not to have their photos posted online, which we always respect and honor.

Today, with the rain, we’ll stay put until it’s time to head to Jabula Lodge and Restaurant for our usual, always delightful weekend dinner with dear friends Rita and Gerhard. We do not doubt that owner/friend Dawn and her excellent assistant Lyn will seat us at a table out of the rain, should it continue.

Big Daddy is always welcomed in the garden.

We continue to count down the days until we depart Marloth Park, now with only 10 to go. We can’t believe how quickly it’s coming up. Bit by bit, I’m packing in preparation for the departure date of June 29th.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, June 19, 2020:

In the 300-year-old stone house, we rented in 2013, the authentic Tuscan kitchen in Boveglio, Tuscany, Italy. Unfortunately, there was no dishwasher, microwave, small appliances, or electric coffee pot in the otherwise well-stocked kitchen with items used to make pasta, bread, and sauces. For more photos, please click here.

Visitor in the kitchen on crumb patrol…Little pleasures…

Our friend Frank, of Frank and The Misses francolins, had a self-tour of our house, including the kitchen.

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 20 warthogs – inc. Tiny, Lonely Girl, Fred, and Ethel, Peter, Paul and Mary, 2 sets Mom and Babies and others
  • 7 bushbucks – inc. Chewy, Thick Neck/Bad Leg, Spikey, and others
  • 12 kudus – inc. Bossy, Big Daddy, Notches, Little Daddy, Mom and Baby, and others
  • 21 helmeted guinea-fowl
  • One wildebeest – inc. Broken Horn
  • 1 female duiker
  • 12 mongoose
  • 2 Frank and The Misses
Moments later, he turned around and went the other way.

When I entered the house to refresh my glass of ice tea, I nearly fell over laughing. Frank was wandering about the kitchen, perhaps looking for bits of food on the floor. Fearful of scaring him off, I quickly grabbed the camera to take the two photos included here today. Please excuse the blur in the photos caused by my laughter and inability to hold the camera still.

After taking the photos I wandered into the kitchen to find him quite “at home” to see me there. Also, he had no issue or confusion in finding his way out the door. After a few minutes, he wandered toward the veranda door and “saw himself out.” I didn’t have to do a thing.

These “little things” make our time in Marloth Park and elsewhere in our world travels that make life so fascinating. Every day, it’s something new that piques our interest, leaving us in awe of nature and the world around us. Whether it is a laugh-worthy experience or a tender or disappointing moment, we can’t help but notice little details.

Spikey and kudus.

This morning while seated at the table on the veranda, Little appeared as he often does, multiple times each day. But, this morning was slightly different. His right eye was oozing blood, not from the eyeball but from the corner of his eye. We wondered what had happened to him, concerned for his well-being.

Could he have been in a fight with another animal? Could he have incurred the injury while walking through the spiked branches of trees and brush in the bush as he continues on his daily tour of the park? We’ll never know. The injury doesn’t look life-threatening. Warthogs are sturdy animals and most likely, in time, they will heal on their own.

Lots of kudus in the garden.

With so many warthogs in Marloth Park, few with injuries are attended to by the rangers and local vets who oversee the well-being of the animals. The attitude is to “let nature take its course.” When an animal is caught in a snare or suffering significantly, the vet may work with the rangers to treat the animal properly.

But if it’s a warthog, which many consider annoying and less “important,” they may be “put down” if they suffer from a disabling or life-threatening condition. This is a reality in the bush that all of us animal lovers must face. One day, a favorite “visitor” may not appear in the garden, leaving residents wondering what happened to that animal when in fact, they may have been killed on the road, killed in a fight, or died from natural causes.

Some of these animals are old. Tiny is one of them. Warthogs can live 15 to 18 years, although the average lifespan in the wild is 7 to 11 years due to stats when they are killed by apex predators. But, here in Marloth Park, where they rarely face a lion, cheetah, leopard, or other apex predators, they can live many more years.

Another busy morning in the bush.

We consider the reality that when we return from the US at the end of July, having been gone for 28 days, some of our favorite animals, including Tiny, Little, Frank, and others, may never be seen by us again. They could easily be killed or simply lost interest in returning here when we’ve been gone so long.

The only encouragement I have is the fact that almost two years after we left Marloth Park in 2019, Little found us once again and visits every single day. We’ll hang onto the hope that we’ll see them all again, maybe not immediately upon our return, but in the days and weeks to come.

May your day bring you joy in the little things…

Photo from one year ago today, June 16, 2020:

We highlighted Venice, Italy, one year ago. Check out the crowds! For more photos, please click here.