Our bag is supposed to arrive today…We’ll see how that goes…I made a mistake about Tiny…

Little and his newly adopted family stop by for another visit. Pellets on the menu!!!

When we packed that duffel bag while still in Nevada, we included five new pairs of shoes for both of us. I tossed all my old shoes in our hotel room that Id replaced with the three new pairs, leaving me with only two spare worn-out pairs of shoes. Tom did the same, and now he, too, has only two pairs of shoes left.

If we don’t get that bag today as promised by United Airlines, we are up a creek when it comes to shoes. None of these brands and styles can be replaced here in South Africa. Our only option would be to buy them online in the US and have them shipped to us via DHL for more exorbitant costs.

Mom and Baby bushbuck which was born while we were gone. She is so tiny!

We also had our toiletries, including two Braun electric toothbrushes, newly ordered boxes of our business cards, new insulated mugs, and drink koozies, all valued at over US $25, ZAR 365, each, none of which are available for purchase in South Africa.

Also included were several new clothing items and underwear we both desperately needed. Do we trust that the bag will arrive? Not really. We’ll be pleasantly surprised if it does. We arranged for the bag delivered to Louise and Danie’s Info Centre, where they will be all day since the roads to our house might deter a driver from bringing it directly to us.

Baby bushbuck and an older youngster sharing pellets from the container which we use for the bushbucks, to keep the guinea-fowl from stealing all the pellets.

In the interim, we grocery shopped in Komatipoort. We had hoped to go to the liquor store for light wine for me and brandy for Tom but based on the current lockdown in South Africa, liquor sales were suspended from Friday through Sunday, in an attempt to inhibit heavy liquor use over the weekends. When people drink heavily, there are more accidents and injuries, resulting in more of a need for more emergency services and hospital visits during these times of Covid. At least the total ban ended the day after we arrived.

Today was the first time we shopped since our return from the US, although Louise shopped for us for basic supplies on Monday. But, we still needed many items and ingredients for recipes I’d like to make over the next week or two. After today’s extensive shopping we’re probably good for the next ten days, depending on how often we eat out.

Hal and Blue Gnu are coming onto the veranda.

Now, that we’re both rested and recovered from the long travel period from the US to South Africa, we can begin to socialize, starting tonight with a get-together planned for tonight at Jabula to celebrate Gerhard’s birthday. It will be a small group of seven, but tonight, finally, I get to see my dear friend Kathy, who arrived here in the bush a few weeks ago, and Rita and Gerhard, whom we also missed during our time away.

I made a mistake about Tiny. We have not seen him. Instead, I’d mistaken a Tiny look-alike, whom we called The Imposter before we left. In my enthusiasm, I wanted to believe it was him. But, when The Imposter was here with his friend Narrow for quite some time, we both realized it wasn’t Tiny.

We love wildebeest. The expressions on their faces is priceless

Good grief. Not to sound species-specific profiling, but many of the animals do look alike. Often it’s the most subtle of markings and traits that enable us to determine who is who. Although massive, I should have picked it up that The Imposter wasn’t as big as Tiny, nor were the size of warts on his temples.

Now, we wait with bated breath for the real Tiny to return to us. It could be days, weeks or months, or even never. We lost Tusker when we were at the Orange house, and he never returned after Basket scared him away, declaring his territory. A similar scenario could have transpired in the four weeks we were gone. Also, warthogs are often hit by cars on Olifant Road, the main paved road in Marloth Park.

As in the past, Broken Horn stops by each day.

We’ll be sad if Tiny doesn’t return, but we realize this is the bush, and anything can happen to these majestic animals living in the wild.

We hope all of our readers are safe from harm and still managing to cope with the throes of Covid, still facing all of us worldwide.

Photo from one year ago today, July 30, 2020:

This photo is from the year-ago post while in lockdown in Mumbai, India, on day #129. Check out the size of the fish and steak portions. Tom was craving peanuts, and we added a few packages to the stash. The brats in the bottom right of the photo are gluten, grain, and sugar-free. The total cost for this haul was US $109,38, ZAR 1595. 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.

Perfect bush home upon arrival…No lost bag yet…But, lots of visitors coming to see us!…

Little seems to have adopted a family of three, a mom and two growing piglets with whom he happily shares pellets.

When we entered our bush home on Monday, we were happy to see how it looked and smelled after a deep cleaning was executed while we were away by Vusi and Zef, our two much-appreciated household helpers. Not only was every space neatly organized, and cleaned but the house even smelled fresh.

Living in the bush with all the wildlife, every space is subject to accumulating excessive amounts of dust, including pellet dust, dust from the dirt in the garden, soot from burning sugar cane, and the usual collection of dust from human occupants. Now, of course, once we unpacked, we cluttered the house again with papers and receipts to process in the next few days.

Tiny seemed happy to see us, although he hesitated for a moment to ensure it was us. He is very shy, unlike Little. We are thrilled to see him once again!

For us, returning from such a trip is more than just unpacking, doing laundry, and putting things away. There are countless papers to deal with, especially since we have to file claims for lost luggage. Our missing bag with all of our new items did n.ot arrive yesterday as they’d stated it would.

This morning I called United Airlines lost baggage department and found it was still at the airport and yet sent out for delivery. The rep requested a quick turnaround, and hopefully, it will soon be on the move, arriving in the next few days. They insisted it isn’t lost and will it will eventually arrive.

I swooned with delight to see Frank return. We spotted him in the garden, called for him, and he came running right to his container of seeds. Once again, his two to three daily visits will continue. No sighting of The Misses yet, but maybe soon.

Once the ba arrives, we are entitled to compensation for the inconvenience and concern. We’ll have to call back to determine exactly what that is since online, and there are conflicting references to such compensation. We’ll see how that rolls out.

As for our visitors, they’ve been returning, one after another, each eliciting an enthusiastic response from us,  with pellets tossed to them with gusto. Not all of our favorites have returned, but both Little and Tiny, our two favorite warthogs, arrived yesterday. It’s lovely to see them again.

Mongoose have visited four times in the past 24 hours. We always enjoy their cute antics.

If a pig can look happy, they both looked delighted to see us. No, it wasn’t a smile on their faces but instead a little kicking up of heels and easily approaching the veranda. Tiny was always shy in coming too close but, Little neer hesitated to get up close and personal. I couldn’t have been more relieved and delighted to see them once again.

They’ve yet to return today, but it’s still early, and we fully anticipate they will return later in the day, often close to 4:00 pm. Ah, the joys of the bush.

This is Little, my boy, and favorite warthog since 2018. The fact that he found us here, a few miles from the Orange house, is a miracle. But,\ pigs are smart.

Of course, I flipped out with joy when Frank came running when we called him to partake of seeds we placed in the usual location on the veranda. Even without his daily diet of seeds suddenly taken away for four weeks, he looked healthy and happy to see us as well. The Misses was nowhere to be found. Perhaps, she’s sitting on some eggs during these cold winter days.

Gosh, it’s good to be back. Our friends are giving us a few days to recover from the long journey, but we’ll see them soon. Tom’s been a little under the weather with a cough since we left the US and these few quiet days are good for him. We still have yet to get onto a good sleep schedule. Last night, I was awake for four hours during the night, feeling groggy when it was time to get up.

Although very pushy and determined to monopolize the pellet show, Bossy is also very pretty and sweet.

Vusi came this morning, cleaned the house and veranda, and delivered the chicken and mince Louise had stored for us in her freezer during the power outage. To be safe, I am baking the chicken in the oven right now, which, when cooled, I’ll shred and freeze for future use in a variety of dishes. Gosh, it’s good to be back. I know I repeated it, but it simply is a pleasure to be back here where we belong.

Thanks to all of our readers for hanging in there with us during our break away. Have a fantastic day!

Photo from one year ago today, July 28, 2020:

Our photo of the Blood Moon from July 27, 2018, was taken from our garden in Marloth Park in 2018 and was posted one year ago today, while in lockdown on day #127, in Mumbai, India. For more photos, please click here.

We made it back to the bush…minus one bag…

Little is back!!! We are excited to see him again! No Tiny yet, but maybe soon.

We are undoubtedly thrilled to be back safely after the long journey, no worse for the wear. The return trip wasn’t easy, especially the long 15-hour flight and the myriad connections. Sleep was elusive on the plane and neither of us slept a wink during the time we spent in the airport hotel in Joburg. At midnight, it was daytime to us and there was no way we could fall asleep. It was a long and fitful night.

In Joburg, our huge new duffel bag was lost and has yet to arrive. We filed a claim but no word yet, three days later. This bag contained all of the new items we purchased in the US. We aren’t hopeful

Tom’s yellow bag was found in Joburg and was delivered last night. At this point, we are out only one of our previous three missing bags. If it isn’t found in the next few days or so we will have to file for reimbursement

But, replacing the items will be time-consuming and require a shipment to South Africa which is always a frustrating scenario. We will figure that out in the next few days, confident that when all is said and done it will be fine. It’s only stuff, after all

Mom and Baby Bushbuck! She must have brought this baby out of hiding while we were in the US.

Regardless of the tiredness and inconveniences, we are thrilled to have had such a great experience in the US and are now thrilled to be back in our slice of Paradise, Marloth Park. As I write this now, situated at the table on the veranda, the power has been out since last night, only hours after we arrived and shortly after we returned home from dinner at Jabula.

Louise had grocery shopped for us, but I didn’t have the energy to prepare a meal, although we’ll do so tonight. Now with no power, and our perishables in Louise”s freezer, we’ve decided to eat eggs and bacon for tonight’s dinner, easily made on the separate burner on the braai. The electric oven won’t do us much good. Hopefully, the power will return by tonight and we will begin to get back in the groove of life in the bush.

Right now. I am preparing this post on my phone using pricey data from Google Fi since, when the power goes off here, we also lose the WiFi signal.

Some of our animals have returned, but few favorites other than eight adorable bushbucks including a few new babies we’ve seen Peter. Paul and Mary, Bossy, and one new warthog we have named. Broken Tusk or BT, not to be confused with wildebeest, Broken Horn who’s yet to return.

Mongoose drinking from the birdbath. Later, we gave them a pan of eggs. It was a thrill to hear their funny chirping.

Little just showed up! Yeah. Maybe Tiny will be here at sundowner time as always! Plus, I called to discover our third missing bag is on its way to us. We’d already received missing bag #1 (while in Minnesota) and mission bag #2 (which was delivered to Louise’s last night) and soon bag #3, the missing duffel bag, with all the new items will arrive. This is the first time in almost nine years of travel that we’ve lost a bag, let alone three!

And, even more, good news…the power just came back on!!! Yes, good news we surely appreciate!

Enjoy our new photos, many more are coming tomorrow of new sightings of old friends.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, July 27, 2020:

From the year-ago post on day #125 while in lockdown in Mumbai, India I wrote, “OK, folks here’s a new one for you. This is a “bask” of crocodiles!” For more photos, please click here.

Precious time spent with Sister Beth…Las Vegas, here we come!!!…

A pretty female bushbuck in the garden of our holiday home in the bush.

Today’s post will be a “rush job.” In an hour, we have to leave the Milwaukee hotel to head back to the nursing facility where Sister Beth is under meticulous care as, sadly, life is drifting away from this amazing woman who gave her life and devotion to the Catholic Church as a fine teacher.

Through her 69 years of service, at 16 years of age, beginning in 1952, she joined the order, School Sisters of St. Frances, before Tom was born. With all of her commitments,  she also maintained a closeness to her own family as well as her parish family.

Over the years Sister Beth, stayed in close touch with her many siblings, visiting as often as she could, and providing faith, love, and kindness to the many generations of the huge Lyman family.

I always had my own unique relationship with Sister Beth, in awe of her sacrifice and enamored by her easy conversation and knowledge of the world. Often, people assume nuns are so sheltered from the “real world.” But, for many, their understanding of the challenges of life is profound and authentic, allowing them to offer support and counsel to those in need.

Yesterday, when we visited her at the beautiful and well-maintained care facility for retired School Sisters of St. Frances, we were saddened to see her in a weakened state, lying in a recliner chair in the pristine private room, barely whispering when she spoke, but happy to see us.

We chatted with her filling her in on family news and with tidbits on our recent experiences. She seemed fascinated by our extended stay in lockdown in the Mumbai hotel and how we managed to get through those ten months. At times, the three of us chuckled. At other times, we all had tears in our eyes.

I couldn’t help but be reminded of my dear sister Susan, who passed away in a hospice facility last August while we were in India in the lockdown. There was nothing we could do but phone her often, extending our love and concern. My sister Julie and Susan’s daughter Kely were with her at the end. She took her last breath while Julie was reading one of our posts. I cried all the harder hearing this but was grateful she enjoyed our journey all those years. It was a sad time we’ll never forget.

In all those years we were traveling, I spoke to Susan almost weekly as she loved hearing about our adventures. When she was well, years earlier, she too was a world traveler.

This morning at 10:00, we’re returning to the care home to say goodbye to Sister Beth. This may be the last time Tom sees his beloved sister, and it won’t be easy for him, nor will it be for me. It’s human nature to feel sorrow for the loved one we’re potentially losing now while bringing up the sorrow of those we lost in the past.

On a lighter note, tonight at 9:00 pm, we’re flying to Las Vegas on Delta (ugh!) on a packed plane. We weren’t able to select our seats (very odd) and will be squeezed in tight amongst others, Tom by a window and me in the middle across the aisle from him at the back of the plane. Fortunately, the flight is only 3 hours, 20 minutes, and hopefully, they have inflight movies to kill time.

Arriving at 10:50 pm, due to a 2-hour time difference, we’ll immediately get our bags and rental car and head to our hotel in Henderson, a 20-minute drive from the airport. Of course, at the late hour, we won’t see Richard until the next day, most likely meeting for dinner after his workday. I am so looking forward to it.

Next time you hear from us, we’ll be in Henderson, Nevada, at the Green Valley Ranch Resort and Spa, where we’ll stay for the next six nights, including our late arrival tonight.

Please stay tuned. We’ll be back!!!

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

Dinner on day #117 while in lockdown in Mumbai, India, one year ago. Tom described my chicken curry (on a bed of steamed cabbage) as looking like cat puke. I dismiss his observation and thoroughly have enjoyed this spicy, delicious meal but later changed to alternating chicken and salmon each night when this meal raised my blood sugar to a high level. For more photos, please click here.

Family days continue…There’s no easy answer…

The mongoose went on a frenzy, taking the whole eggs out of the pan, cracking them on rocks, and eating the contents. This is so fun to watch!

Today is another busy day. Soon, we’ll be off to see our granddaughters, Maisie and Madighan, at their home about 20 minutes from here. This afternoon, we’ll again meet up with Tom’s sisters and family at Billy’s Bar in Anoka, a 40-minute drive.

The time in Minnesota is moving quickly. We can hardly believe we’ll be leaving for Milwaukee a week from today to see Tom’s sister, Beth. Next Thursday, the 14-day waiting period will have passed, and we’ll be free to visit the nursing home. At least by then, we’ll meet the criteria of having had our vaccine two weeks earlier.

As mentioned earlier, Tom intends to visit a few cemeteries to do further research for his Ancestry.com files, for family members who passed in various cities near Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I will take photos on my phone of the specific findings to enable him to upload them to his files on the app.

Yesterday afternoon, we headed back to Andover for a 4:00 pm barbecue at Tom’s sister Mary’s (and husband Eugene’s) home. We had an opportunity to see a few other family members we hadn’t seen since we arrived on July 1st. His niece Kari, a big fan of our site and wildlife, was there as well.

Kari often writes to us, and it was delightful to interact with her in person. She loves animals, and we giggled over many of our sightings and photos posted on our website, videos on YouTube, and Facebook. We could easily call Kari a “superfan,” which makes us blush in the sheer wonder of having a family member, or anyone for that matter, so enthralled with our site and photos.

Along with us, Kari is particularly concerned that our favorite warthogs, Little and Tiny, will still be there when we return, along with all of our other wildlife favorites. Almost a month is a long time to be away, and it may take a while for them to realize we have returned and to come to visit us again.

Returning, of course, hinges on our ability to return to South Africa in 16 days based on the increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases escalating by the hour. It appears that the new lockdown measures are having little impact on the reduction of cases, including the pointless alcohol ban. People will still find ways to consume alcohol and gather in groups which is obviously still happening.

I can’t say how relieved we are to be vaccinated (Tom, less so than me). In Minnesota, with low numbers of cases right now, few, if any, are wearing face masks and social distancing. It’s easy for a population to become lax when their cases are low, but it only takes a handful of infected individuals to set the pace for more cases and subsequent deaths. It’s not time to lighten up in the US as yet.

As for Marloth Park, we keep reading of increasing cases in the park, and this is concerning for sure. Of course, we’ll exercise caution when we return, that is, if we can return. Only time will tell.

Everyone talks about their struggles during the lockdowns over the past 18 months. Each individual has their own special story to tell, often interspersed with interesting anecdotes and challenges. Many are left traumatized by the experience and, in some cases, losing loved ones and possibly having had the virus themselves. Some are even left with Covid “long-haul” symptoms making a full recovery far down the road.

There’s still a long way to go until life returns to that which we knew two years ago if it ever does. Will our new world include ongoing precautions, including less hugging, less touching, fewer gatherings, and fewer public interactions? Here again, it’s a “wait and see” scenario over which few of us have little control.

With all the negative scuttlebutt about getting the vaccine, it appears, at this time, to be our best option. Sure, many have had serious consequences from receiving the vaccines, and there’s no easy answer as to how to avoid those risks. But, we have little choice but to prevail.

May you and your loved one be safe and healthy.

Photo from one year ago today, July 9, 2020:

Horses and a peacock in the front garden of a home in Trinity Beach, Australia, in 2016. For more photos, please click here.

The helicopter noise has ended…The result, unknown as yet…5 days and counting…

A red-backed shrike was sitting atop Rita’s hat while we were at Two Trees.

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 12 warthogs – inc. Little, Tiny, Lonely Girl, Fred, and Ethel, Peter, Paul, Mary, One Tusk, and more
  • 10 bushbucks – inc. Chewy, Thick Neck, Bad Leg, Spikey, Big Spikey, and others
  • 1 kudus – none-did we lose Bossy and family?
  • 1 wildebeest – inc. Broken Horn
  • 27  helmeted guinea-fowl
  • 24 mongoose
  • 2 Frank and The Misses

We are so relieved the helicopter herding of kudus and impalas has ended. Unfortunately, at this point, we have no idea how many animals were moved and culled in the process. The only place to find the stats is on various groups on Facebook. There have been many posts that both espouse the approach and criticize it.

I had posted some frustration and mistrust of the process but got such negative feedback. I removed the post. I have no interest in getting into online altercations. And yet, a day later, dozens of comments were made stating my same concerns, often vehemently expressed back and forth between Facebook users.

Two giraffes, at a distance on a hill, at the Crocodile River.

At some point soon, warthogs will be culled, perhaps while we’re in the US. We’ll keep watching the various Facebook groups for more information. However, my biggest question will remain prevalent in my mind – will Little and Tiny still be here when we return, four weeks later.

On another note, last night, there were seven of us situated on our veranda for sundowners and appetizers. What a fabulous evening we had! It started at 4:00 pm, 1600 hrs, and ended after 10:00 pm, 2200 hrs. We are so blessed to have such good friends here in Marloth Park and look forward to seeing them all again when we return at the end of July.

A turtle on the opposite side of the Crocodile River.

And now, as we plan activities in the US, we are arranging some get-together with some of our friends in Minnesota between family visits. On the 4th of July, my son Greg and family will meet us for dinner at Maynard’s Restaurant on Lake Minnetonka, followed by an evening of fireworks at our former next-door neighbor’s house.

Greg will bring chairs for all seven of us, sit on Nelleke and Dave’s lawn, and watch three or four sets of fireworks over Lake Minnewashta. It will be a fun experience for three of our six grandchildren and reminiscent of years past when we watched the fireworks from our dock on the lake.

A distant hippo and a few cattle egret, who often hang around with hippos, on an island in the Crocodile River.

But, we won’t be too sad. We appreciate and love this nomadic life we live. Memories bring a smile to our faces, reminding us how grateful we are for all of the experiences of our lives. Some of our friends/neighbors have moved away from the neighborhood but live nearby, and hopefully, we’ll see them as well.

Of course, we’re looking forward to seeing both sides of our families. Tom is from a huge family, and he’ll visit them on his own when I am with Greg’s family and, at other times, with me tagging along. I have always enjoyed his family and look forward to seeing them, too.

A hornbill and a red-backed shrike were wondering if we had some snacks. We did not.

With the number of cases of Covid-19 rapidly escalating in South Africa, we’re hoping there won’t be an issue when we attempt to return on the new flight we booked with United Airlines on July 24 from Las Vegas to Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger, arriving on July 26th. Unfortunately, it’s a long haul both ways, consisting of over two days of travel time each way.

The hardest part of such long travel periods is the lack of sleep. We can easily handle jet lag, time differences, and waiting at various points along the way. But, the lack of sleep in two days is tough to take especially, when neither of us sleeps well sitting up.

Soon, there will be a full moon.

We’ll arrive in Minneapolis at our hotel around dinnertime on July 1st and will undoubtedly look forward to a good meal and a restful night’s sleep. The following day, the first thing we’ll do after breakfast is head to a location where we can get the J & J vaccine. It’s imperative we can get the one-dose to head to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to see Tom’s sister Betty, who is in a nursing home.

As is the case at most nursing/assisted living facilities, visitors must have had their vaccines at least two weeks before visiting friends and family members. If we can’t get the J & J vaccine, we won’t be able to see Sister Beth (a retired nun), which would be a big disappointment for her and us.

Today, we’re staying put, gearing up to sorting and packing for the upcoming journey. We’ll be spending one night in Joburg and need to carry on overnight items accordingly, checking the remainder of our luggage. In addition, we’ll each check one suitcase with clothes and things we’ll need.

Have a great day!

Photo from one year ago today, June 24, 2020:

This buffalo was not happy to see Tom when he went for a walk in the neighborhood in Sumbersari, Bali. He didn’t use any zoom to capture this photo when suddenly, this monstrous, agitated buffalo started to approach him. Tom ran like a “bat out of hell” to get away, telling me the story while still breathless from running. For more photos, please click here.

Day 3 of culling…An early morning live alarm clock!…Young kudus visiting without their moms?…Could it be?…

This may look like a bird when, in fact, it was the helicopter we spotted this morning, flying overhead herding animals for the bomas, where they will then be transferred to Lionspruit. Their fate is yet to be confirmed.

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 15 warthogs – inc. Little, Tiny, Lonely Girl, Fred, and Ethel, Peter, Paul, Mary, 2 Moms and Babies, and more
  • 10 bushbucks – inc. Chewy, Thick Neck, Bad Leg, Spikey, Big Spikey, and others
  • 1 kudus – inc. Bossy
  • 3 wildebeest – inc. Broken Horn, Old Man, and Hal
  • 19  helmeted guinea-fowl
  • 38 mongoose
  • 2 Frank and The Misses
Excuse this blurry photo, taken from quite a distance. This is a red-billed hornbill described here: The red-billed hornbills are a group of hornbills found in the savannas and woodlands of sub-Saharan Africa. They are now usually split into five species, the northern red-billed hornbill (Tockus erythrorhynchus), western red-billed hornbill (T. kempi), Tanzanian red-billed hornbill (T. ruahae), southern red-billed hornbill (T. rufirostris), and Damara red-billed hornbill (T. damarensis). Still, some authorities consider the latter four all subspecies of Tockus erythrorhynchus. The female lays three to six white eggs in a tree hole during incubation, which is blocked off with a plaster of mud, droppings, and fruit pulp. There is only one narrow aperture, just big enough for the male to transfer food to the mother and the chicks. When the chicks and the female are too big for the nest, the mother breaks out and rebuilds the wall. Then both parents feed the chicks.

The helicopter is flying overhead right now and has been doing so for the past 3 hours. The sound of the whirring blades makes me cringe. Bossy, my favorite kudu, who’s pregnant, ran off terrified when the helicopter swooped in over her head.  Did she follow the stampede of terrified animals to the bomas, where they are being held until they are moved into Lionspruit?

Is Bossy now gone? Only time will tell. She was a daily visitor, often stopping by as many as four or five times a day. She’d look into my eyes, with what almost appeared to be a smile on her “got milk” white mustache, typical for all kudus. I will feel lost without her daily presence.

We spotted this giraffe on our way to Two Trees to meet up with friends.

There are many opinions and rumors about what’s happening with animals once they are gathered. Some say they will be shot. Others say they will live peacefully in Lionspruit with their only threat, the two lions, Dezi and Fluffy, who permanently live in Lionspruit and have for years. Here again, only time will tell what’s happened to the hundreds of kudus being moved over these past three days.

The more I speak to locals, which we’ve done quite a bit over the past several days, the more I accept the reality of this seemingly humane thing to do. Is it a quick and painless death or a slow, painful death of starving with no readily available vegetation during the long winter months?

Three ostriches along the side of the road on our way to Two Trees.

Humans who feed them can’t possibly provide enough food to keep them going throughout the winter. Imagine how much food it takes to feed a 250 to 500 pound, 113 kg to 227 kg animal in a day? It would be impossible to provide them with adequate portions to sustain life.

If they were in Kruger, they’d have larger foraging areas to wander for food. But here in Marloth Park at 6.76 square miles, there isn’t enough vegetation to feed them, the hundreds of impala, the bushbucks, wildebeest, and other foraging animals.

The three ostriches with their heads up.

Even the giraffes, who mainly eat from the treetops, are running out of suitable vegetation. Soon dozens of them will be culled. What will happen to them? It’s a painful reality for all of the wildlife in Marloth Park.

This morning at 6:00 am, while we were still asleep, we were both awakened by repeated loud barks coming from the garden. I jumped out of bed and looked outside to find Broken Horn staring at the veranda door, wondering when we were coming outside to feed him. In one way, we found it humorous, but moments later, I stopped my giggling in the sad realization he, among others, is hungry.

Egyptian geese are commonly seen at the river. The Egyptian goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca) is a duck, goose, and swan family, Anatidae. It is native to Africa south of the Sahara and the Nile Valley. Egyptian geese were considered sacred by the Ancient Egyptians and appeared in much of their artwork. However, because of their popularity chiefly as ornamental birds, escapees are common and feral populations have become established in Western Europe, the United States, and New Zealand.

The trees, plants, and bushes they all consume are sparse. But, of course, they’d come to see us and others living/staying in Marloth Park for whatever morsels we can provide. I get it. Over the past few days, I’m off my “high horse” and surrender to reality, albeit sadly and painfully so.

Yesterday afternoon Tom witnessed five young kudus alone in the garden with no moms present, which is a rarity. I was indoors finishing the post (I had to get away from the distractions in the garden) to focus and finish up for the day. Tom waited and watched, and none of the usual moms appeared. Undoubtedly, the moms have been captured, and now the youngsters must fend for themselves—another harsh reality.

This distant elephant was making her way to the river.

Yesterday afternoon we met up with Rita, Gerhard, and Don at Two Trees overlooking the Crocodile River. I was able to take some interesting photos, which we’ll share over the next few days. After the river, Tom, Don, and I headed to Jabula Lodge and Restaurant for another outstanding dinner while Rita and Gerhard had a quiet evening at home.

By 9:00 pm, 2100 hrs, we were back home relaxing while watching another great episode of the streamed Africa series on Amazon Prime, Wild at Heart. In no time at all, I drifted off for a good night’s sleep. Tom often stays awake until midnight reading on his laptop.

Impalas on the hill in Kruger above the Crocodile River.

This afternoon we’re having sundowner guests. There will be seven of us for snacks, drinks, and undoubtedly more great conversation. We’ve been quite busy socially these past weeks, which we have thoroughly enjoyed. Now, with only six days until we depart Marloth Park to begin the long journey to the US, we’re winding down the socializing to get ready to leave for almost a month.

With our return flight booked through United Airlines, all we have to do now is to figure out a way to get a refund from the former canceled flight. Unfortunately, it’s time-consuming and tricky.

Have a pleasant day!

 Photo from one year ago today, June 23, 2020:

Houses we encountered on a walk through the village of Bennabio in Tuscany, Italy, in 2013. For more photos, please click here.

We can hear the helicopters rounding up our animal friends…The close proximity of sightings…

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 12 warthogs – inc. Little, Tiny, Lonely Girl, Fred, and Ethel, Peter, Paul, Mary, and more
  • 10 bushbucks – inc. Chewy, Thick Neck/Bad Leg, Spikey, Big Spikey, and others
  • 7 kudus – inc. Bossy, Notches, Little Daddy, and others
  • 1 wildebeest – inc. Broken Horn
  • 19 helmeted guinea-fowl
  • 2 Frank and The Misses

The sound of the helicopters overhead is making me cringe. But, with seven kudus in the garden right now along with Little, Peter, Paul, and Mary, Fred, and Ethel, and seven bushbucks, we’re hoping they’ll hang around with us today, tomorrow, and Wednesday. If they stay nearby, they may be safe, according to Louise’s input.

The male bushbuck we call Bad Leg stood close to us on the veranda.

If they stay in this general area, there is less likelihood of them being herded to their demise. Nevertheless, it will be a tense three days on this end. Now, here comes Broken Horn, with lucerne hanging from his mouth. As he approached, he stepped on the long grass in his mouth and pulled hard to get it out. Animals are amazing.

We underestimate their intelligence. But, then again, do we? As we sit here day after day, totally enthralled, watching them and their behaviors, we’re continually in awe of their innate ability to communicate with one another, let alone with us from time to time.

For the first time, gray louries pecked at Frank’s seeds.

Yesterday, while observing dozens of birds who’ve become regulars, we commented to one another how each day is different from the next. So it’s no wonder it’s difficult for us to feel a need or desire to go away for the day. Even visiting Kruger National Park, which we’ve promised ourselves to visit more frequently when we return from the US, doesn’t consistently deliver the thrills we encounter right here in the garden.

No doubt Kruger has its array of thrills; seeing the Big Five is only a tiny part of it. The endless videos we’ve made and photos we’ve taken over the years of extreme sightings in the national park have left us reeling with wonder. We often refer back to them, astounded by what we’d seen.

The gray louries are typically shy around humans. So it was fun to see them up close.

But, the garden is another matter, requiring no hours-long rides in the car without seeing anything and often managing to maneuver for a good spot when other vehicles are crowded near a special sighting. So, for us, it’s usually about the “little things” we see along the way.

That’s not to say we are tired of game drives. Suppose we could add all of our safaris and self-drives in our visits to national parks. In that case, we could easily say we’ve had hundreds of experiences in several countries, including South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Morocco, and most recently, India.

A gray lourie landed on the table on the veranda while we were seated, a first for us.

In India alone, we visited three national parks during our private tour of the country before the Covid-19 lockdown. We counted 24 game drives in those locations, always on a search for the majestic Bengal Tiger. Mission accomplished. The Big Five performed in many of the above-listed countries, beginning in Kenya in 2013.

That’s not to say more thrills aren’t awaiting us on more game drives. Most certainly, they are, and we look forward to those opportunities, in many ways inspired by our commitment to sharing them here with all of our worldwide readers. But, of course, doing so makes the sightings all the more exciting and rewarding.

Unusual. Three gray louries (go-away birds) descended on the grill for the first time.

Yesterday, we focused on the dozens of birds visiting the garden, drinking from the birdbath, eating seeds, and even getting up close and personal with us by landing on the veranda table while we were seated here, as we are now. Whether it is the sighting of a dung beetle rolling his ball, a bird splashing in the birdbath, or a band of mongoose munching on leftover meat and fat from a prior meal, we love it all. The close proximity certainly is a factor in our degree of enthusiasm.

Yes, we love it all. And soon, in a mere eight days, we’ll be leaving all of this behind us for four weeks and heading to a world so far removed from what we’ve experienced here on a day-to-day basis. Oddly, once again, it will be a culture shock. I can only imagine the day we walk into a Costco store to buy a few of their popular five-dollar roasted chickens to eat in our hotel with a microwave and full kitchen, and our eyes will open wide in shock over all the “abundance.”

Little, on the left, and Tiny were sitting closer together than we’d seen in the past. They are our favorite pigs, and yet their personalities are so different. Little is pushy and bossy, and Tiny is gentle and accommodating.

Life in the bush is abundant in other ways.

Be well.

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

The ocean is behind this old vine-covered garage in Campanario, Madeira, Portugal, in 2014. For more photos, please click here.

Culling in Marloth Park begins tomorrow…Will some of our favorite’s lives come to an end?…A birdie morning…

We had set Frank’s seeds on the table to keep the warthogs and bushbucks from coming onto the veranda to eat them. Suddenly four hornbills decided to dig in.

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 10 warthogs – inc. Little, Tiny, Lonely Girl, Fred, and Ethel, Peter, Paul, Mary, and more
  • 11 bushbucks – inc. Chewy, Thick Neck/Bad Leg, Spikey, Big Spikey, and others
  • 4 kudus – inc. Bossy, Notches, and others
  • 5 hornbills – currently banging on the kitchen window
  • 2 wildebeest – inc. Broken Horn, Hal
  • 25 helmeted guinea-fowl
  • 2 Frank and The Misses
  • 4 gray lourie (“go-away” bird) – currently making her/his unique sounds

    First, there was one, then two, and it grew from there.

On a day-to-day basis, there’s a good amount of information about what’s transpiring in Marloth Park on Facebook. We both belong to several MP groups. Yesterday, in the group entitled Marloth Park Sighting Page, the following post was listed:

“CULL TO START THIS MONDAY:
Dear Property Owners, MPRA received an email from the Wildlifevets that they will be doing MASS CAPTURE of Impala and Kudu in Marloth Park from the 20th to the 25th of June (as they believe that these animals will be easiest to capture in high numbers) and that all other species can be caught in passive capture bomas thereafter (excluding Giraffe as they want to do a large scale reduction of Giraffe as well, but don’t have an abattoir that can handle a Giraffe carcass at this time). I phoned Cobus Raath this afternoon to make sure I read the email correctly, and he confirmed that they would be installing bomas in Marloth Park this Sunday (MPRA is not aware where these bomas will be erected in Marloth Park). They will then chase the animals into these bomas by helicopter on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. The animals will then be moved from these bomas to Lionspruit and will be culled there. MPRA did send an email as to the risks of helicopter chase and capture, due to the alarming rate of development in Marloth Park, employees, tourists, and visitors and suggested that we rather use passive bomas to capture as from 1 May or soonest as we would have enough weeks to passively capture enough animals, and passive capture worked last year even though it was only implemented between Sept and Oct last year. Unfortunately, we received no feedback from the Wildlifevets or the “forum,” which includes MPPOA, HR, WILDLIFE FUND, MARLOTHI CONSERVANCY, and recently THE WILD & FREE REHABILITATION. MPRA, however, is shocked that neither the municipality nor any of the other organizations have given property owners, visitors, tourists, and employees enough warning as to the helicopter capture; and therefore IMPLORE you to warn fellow property owners, employees, rentals, tourists and your visitors on an URGENT basis, please.”
Then, there were three.
Of course, I was shocked and disappointed, but Tom was less so. He accepts the reality there are too many animals in Marloth Park at this time. The overabundance presents a feeding issue, not only during the sparse winter months like now but also during the more lush rainy season in the spring, summer, and fall.
My logical mind understands this harsh reality. But, my heart aches at the prospect of losing some of my favorites to this upcoming cull. Plus, I can’t grasp why they must be killed. Why not gather them up and take them into Lionspruit, where nature may or may not “take its course” or send them to other less abundant conservancy areas?
I wasn’t able to adjust the camera when, if I did, they’d fly off.
The answer to these questions can easily be argued by advocates of culling. They even may make a strong case. But, the prospect of killing many of these precious animals tears at my heartstrings, leaving me sad and bereft. What if Little and Tiny are in the culled group, along with the many kudus we’ve come to know and love. They will even be culling giraffes! That makes no sense to me.
Over the next three days, we’ll be hearing the helicopters overhead, gathering them up into the bomas. This will be tough to hear, knowing the fate of so many of the precious animals.
Little was in the photo.
Of course, I can’t help but worry about my two favorites, warthogs, Little and Tiny, who just spent the entire morning here. What if suddenly they are gone, caught up in the culling effort? We can only wait and see what transpires over the next three days and who will be back in our garden on Thursday morning. Then, of course, we will report back here.
We are still working on rebooking the canceled flight from Las Vegas to Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger on July 24th. We should have it resolved in the next day or so. We aren’t particularly worried about this since there appear to be several other options that will work for us.
Bushbucks in the photo.
We’ll be back tomorrow with more. Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, June 20, 2020

I found this rose in a neighbor’s garden in Campanario, Madeira, Portugal. Not wanting to disturb the neighbor’s garden, I shot this without moving the stem in front of what appears to be an almost perfect rose. For more photos, please click here.