A 44-year ago memory…Great food and ambiance…

Our waiter took the family photo.

We had a fantastic time at Maynard’s in Excelsior on Lake Minnetonka last night with son Greg’s family as we celebrated Camille’s birthday. The three grandchildren were there, and we all sat at a big round table for seven which allowed for easy conversation and laughter.

As was always typical for Maynard’s, the food was great, and the conversations all around were delightful. A few days earlier, Greg and I recalled July 4, 1977, when he and my other son Richard and I took out our first boat on Lake Minnetonka for the holiday experience.

It was fun to be here to celebrate Camille’s birthday with her complimentary ice cream sundae.

It was the first time I’d driven a boat, and the three of us took off from our boat slip in St. Alban’s Bay early in the morning with a plan to make our way across the vast lake, in and out of many bays, to end up at my friend Lynda’s lake house for a 4th of July party.

Our first foray with the boat on the lake that day was to make it the short distance from our slip at the marina to Maynard’s, then called T. Butcherblock’s, so the kids could feed the ducks. It was no later than 9:00 am. Once we arrived at T. Butcherblock’s docks, I somehow managed to dock the boat without banging into the wooden posts and then securely tied it down.

Tom, Miles, and Madighan at the table.

We went inside the restaurant to ask for some stale bread for the ducks that typically swam around the dock, hoping that boaters and diners would toss some food their way. The restaurant staff gave us a bag of old bread, and we meandered back out to the dock to feed the ducks.

My boys, Richard and Greg, then ten and almost eight years old, were thrilled to feed the ducks but not too confident about going back out on the huge lake with their mother, an inexperienced boat driver at the time. I was 29 years old.

Maisie’s Asian salad.

Although I dinged the prop in shallow water, shortly after we left T. Butcherblock’s, we somehow made it to Lynda’s house hours later, albeit slowly with the damaged prop. Once at her house, I arranged to have the prop repaired, and we were soon able to get back out on the lake a few days later. It all worked out, and in those first few days, I learned a lot about boating.

Over the years, I became an experienced boater, upgrading to larger boats as the years passed. My kids spent many summers on the lake with me driving and gained confidence with my skills in time. It was an enjoyable time in our lives.

Tom’s walleye fish and chips. Walleye is a popular fish in the midwest.

Yesterday, being at Maynard’s brought back many memories, especially when Greg recalled that date, 44 years ago, and brought along a bag of stale bread for his kids and us to feed the ducks. After our enjoyable dinner indoors, we headed outside on the pier, packed with partygoers, boaters, and diners to make our way to the water, where numerous ducks and giant carp were awaiting our offerings.

At this point in my life, I wouldn’t normally condone feeding bread to fish and fowl. But, the family tradition was being relived not only for our grandchildren but also for Greg and me. Later, I sent Richard a text to tell him what we’d done, but “tongue in cheek,” he commented, “That wasn’t me.” I reminded him that, indeed, it was him as well. My sons are now 54 and almost 52 years old.

My Cobb salad.

Oh, my gosh…44 years ago. It seems like yesterday. I found myself saying this over and again, “I can’t believe it was 44 years ago!” After we were all done at the dock, we are heading back through the restaurant and out the door to the parking lot, where we all hugged goodbye until we see them again on Thursday evening, our last time together before we depart for Milwaukee and then on to Las Vegas.

Greg, Camille, the kids, and I will all go to the movies together on Thursday evening to see Black Widow. We will have to split up again to say our goodbyes. Tom will return to his sister’s Mary’s home for the usual Thursday night barbecue and catch up with me later in the evening.

Maisie sat next to me as we chatted endlessly.

Today, we made arrangements to see Sister Beth at the nursing home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on Saturday and Sunday, after which we’ll head back to Minneapolis, directly to the airport for our flight to Las Vegas, Nevada, to see Richard. We’ll spend five days in Henderson, Nevada, and then on July 24th, we’ll begin the long trek back to South Africa.

As we fed the ducks, huge carp joined in on the action.

May your day be filled with pleasant experiences.

Photo from one year ago today, July 14, 2020:

Gina, our property manager in Madeira, Portugal, explained that the number of cloudy days we’d experienced while there in 2014 was unusual. For more photos, please click here.

Today is the fourth of my past nine travel birthdays to be spent in Marloth Park…It’s truly a gift to be here…

We wrote in the caption of this photo, on my 70th birthday in 2018, at my party at Jabula with friends: “We’ll always remember this birthday as a special event for both of us; celebrating life, health, our experiences and the fine friends we’ve made along the way.” For more from that date, please click here.

All of today’s photos are from this post on February 21, 2018, the day after my birthday.

It dawned on us this morning that today is the fourth of nine birthdays since we began traveling that we’ve spent in Marloth Park. We were here on this date in 2014, 2018, 2019, and now 2021. Of course, 2019 wasn’t so pleasant when I spent it in ICU in Nelspruit after open-heart surgery. But I leave that memory behind and think of the joy of the other three birthdays, among friends, my dear husband Tom, and the beautiful wildlife surrounding us.

Dawn had decorated the table beautifully for the party. Thanks, Dawn! By the time we were all seated, it was dark, cozy and romantic.

Tonight will be no different than the fun we had on three of those birthdays, spending this evening with Louise and Danie at Jabula Restaurant at a socially distanced outdoor table. In 2018, as a surprise to me, Tom decided we’d return to Marloth Park for my 70th birthday. I couldn’t have been more excited!

Our friends filled a big table on that date, at Jabula Lodge and Restaurant, while we drank wine and cocktails, dined on fabulous food, and enjoyed the companionship of everyone at the table, along with many others who stopped by. Dawn and Leon, dear friends and owners of Jabula, made it very special as well.

Linda, Mick, and Louise with Ken and Don standing. Linda and Ken will be here in Marloth Park next Friday and others will follow in the months to come!

But, with Covid-19, every celebration must be different. There will be no large groups, no hugging, and no close proximity to others. We’ll especially load up on repellent when, after weeks of rain the mozzies are on a rampage with risks of malaria higher than ever.

At the moment, we’re outdoors on the veranda waiting for visitors to come to say hello. So far, only Ms. Dove and Helmeted Guinea-fowls and the Chicks have stopped by. But the day is young and a lot more could happen between now and 4:45 pm when we head to Louise and Danie‘s for sundowners before we all head out to dinner. No doubt, it will be a good day.

We were thrilled with the “cake of the world!”  Local baker, Janine, even made the two representations of Tom and me totally by hand. Wow!

I’d thought about sharing past birthday posts but chose only to highlight the “big one,” my 70th, in 2018, although the others were special and memorable. In the realm of things, especially during these difficult times of Covid-19, and considering our current ages, birthdays aren’t as important as they once may have been.

However, few of us mind the love and attention we receive on our special day, once a year. That’s not to say that other days aren’t special. At this stage in life, every day is truly a gift.

After the dinner plates were cleared the cake was delivered to the table. Thanks, Kathy, for bringing the candles!

It’s hard for me to grasp how old I am. For some reason just can’t wrap my brain around it. Gosh, it was only yesterday, that Tom and I met when I was 43 years old and he was 38. This June we’ll celebrate 30 years together. The time has flown.

Although, like everyone’s life, at times there were challenges, Together, we have stuck like glue, appreciating and embracing our loving and close union, which certainly was tested in those 10 months in the hotel room in Mumbai, India. We stayed strong and determined together and surprisingly, we came out on the other side, unscathed. If anything, we are closer than ever. That, dear readers, is the best gift of all.

Kathy, me, Tom, Lynne and Danie at the end of the table.

No, there won’t be a cake or candles to blow out (a gross thought in times of Covid, anyway), no gifts to open, (i don’t need or want a thing, no cards in the mail (although I’ve received some very thoughtful online cards), Before the day’s end, I’ll have more birthday wishes from family and friends, greetings from many Facebook friends and all the love and attention a person can imagine.

I am truly blessed and grateful. Thank you for all the warm wishes. Thank you for sharing this journey with us!

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, February 20, 2020:

The celebration on the Ganges River at night in Khajuraho. The nine umbrellas represent the nine planets. Hindus value every aspect of the planet and the universe. For more, please click here.

Another birthday celebration…This time at the bar entitled, “What the Hell”…Finally, rental car issue resolved…

 
Painting on the wall outside a sushi restaurant in Palermo, Buenos Aires, Argentina on this date in 2017. For more photos, please click here.

Seniors seem to prefer going out during the day as opposed to at night in the dark. I suppose we are no exception. With crazy drivers on the roads at night many who may have been drinking, daytime visibility is definitely a benefit. That’s not to say daytime drivers are competent or sober.


This fact is especially relevant as we approach New Year’s Eve. It’s for this very reason we were prompted to spend New Year’s Eve at the party here at the resort, rather than venture out to any other locations.


Over the years, our interest in New Year’s Eve has diminished considerably, but when the opportunity to attend the party came up a few nights ago at a great price we negotiated for two tickets, it was hard to turn it down. See yesterday’s post for details.


Yesterday, we brought the egg dish and blueberry muffins to Colleen and Gene’s home for brunch. Afterward, we watched the disappointing Minnesota Vikings Game, returning to our house around 3:30 pm with little to do but relax and unwind.


We should have started to tackle prospects for future bookings but once we returned Tom was determined to watch football for the rest of the day and evening.


I busied myself with a variety of tasks including making a light dinner at 6:30 pm. This morning prior to beginning the post, my time has been spent online checking credit card balances for the first-of-the-month payments. 


Since we’re leaving at 1:30 pm to pick up Colleen and Gena (it’s her birthday today) to head to “What the Hell Bar and Grill” to celebrate her birthday, we have little time to get wrapped up in any research for future travels.


This morning, Tom received an email from rentalcars.com, a site we’ve used since the onset of our travels, and will continue to use for the best pricing on cars worldwide. They finally were crediting us for the issue we ran into when we arrived in Las Vegas on November 28, 2019.


When we approached the rental desk at the Alamo at the airport, we were informed we couldn’t receive the car we’d rented online due to some technical error between them and rentalcars.com.

However, Alamo booked another car for us at an even better price, which we accepted. But, the issue remained to apply for a credit for the car we didn’t get and Alamo stated we’d have to do so through rentalcars.com.

Receiving the credit turned into a convoluted mess of endless email messages, and instructions to apply for the credit online (which didn’t work) with a high degree of frustration on our end. We didn’t give up. We kept pressing.


Finally today, they wrote to us stating the credit will be processed and appear on our credit card within 10 business days. Plus, they offered us a complimentary three-day rental next time we use the service by using a code they included in the message. 


We’ll keep checking the credit card for the credit and definitely use the code next time we rent a car which should be once we arrive in London in May, after the cruise from Mumbai in April.


Now that we have all of the annoying issues resolved hanging over our heads, we can freely move forward in our planning for the future.


Have a fabulous day!

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Photo from one year ago today, December 30, 2018:

Puff adders are commonly seen in Marloth Park. This photo was taken while we were at snake school in March.  Click here for the link when the photo was taken. Click here for the post one year ago.

A lunch for 10 in a Mexican restaurant…What a fabulous time we all had!

We’ve had such a fantastic weekend celebrating Don’s birthday while staying at their gorgeous home in Pretoria.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Kudus came to call on Friday morning before we left for Pretoria.

As soon as we upload today’s post around 10:00 am, we’re on our way back to Marloth Park, planning to arrive around 1500 hours, (3:00 pm).  We’ll unpack, start a load of laundry and decide what to do for dinner.

How sweet!  Tom and Don sharing a sip of a Margarita!
Most likely we’ll dine at home if our food in the freezer survived the 17-hour power outage. The food in the chest freezer will be fine but we’ll see how the items in the refrigerator survived.  Luckily, we didn’t leave much in the refrigerator or its side by side freezer.
Don’s weekend birthday celebration continued through Sunday at Salsa Mexican Grill.

We considered dining out tonight but Jabula is closed for three days and, not surprisingly, I’d like to stay home to see our animal friends, should they be returning to see us.  

Our party of 10 consisted of (from left to right) Kathy, Linda, Tom,  Don, Keith, Ken, Cynthia, Robin and Karen with me taking the photo.

The holiday season isn’t officially over until a few more weeks but many will have already left with school starting again today.  Colleges don’t reconvene for the new school year (after summer holidays) until around February 1st here in South Africa and some college students may still be vacationing here in Marloth Park.  We’ll see how it goes.

Kathy had a chicken burrito. My mouth was watering when I saw this (former) favorite.

We’ve had a wonderful three days at Kathy and Don’s gorgeous home with the two of them and their friends and family.  It was a pleasure to see Linda and Ken who’ll be coming to Marloth Park next Monday to spend a week with us.  There again, more good times are on the horizon.

Linda and Ken shared this tasty looking plate of nachos with cheese and guacamole.

Plus, next Monday is Rita’s birthday party at our house.  On the return drive to Marloth Park, I’ll be planning the menu and grocery list for the items we’ll purchase this upcoming week for the special day. 

Tom, who doesn’t like beans and spicy sauces opted for these three mini burritos with cheese, chicken, beef, and pork.  Don shared a piece of his quesadilla with him.

As for yesterday, we had another outstanding day when 10 of us dined at an authentic Mexican Restaurant, Salsa Mexican Grill, located in Kyalami Corner Mall.  There are 11 locations of this superb restaurant with information on their website.  

Keith’s seafood tostadas with a side of stuffed avocado.

Not only was the food hot, fresh and thoughtfully prepared and delicious,  the presentations, service, and ambiance was as authentic as any Mexican restaurant we’ve experienced anywhere in the world.  The food was “designed” with the California “flavor” so well known in the USA.

Don’s giant quesadilla looked delicious.

This was especially appealing for us having always enjoyed dining on Mexican dishes.  Tom’s taste buds are picky but he was able to find something great that fit his desires.  Everyone else at our table thoroughly enjoyed their chosen meals.

This was my over-the-top chicken salad with roasted fajita vegetables, cucumbers, grilled onions, lettuce, guacamole, sour cream, and seasoned chicken.  I’m going to try to duplicate this salad one day soon.

The menu is special.  We’re handed pens to tick off the boxes of the items and/or ingredients we’d preferred and place our names at the top of the page.  The food arrived perfectly prepared for our choices and even the bill came with a breakdown of the names showing who ordered which dishes and the cost.  

Tom was having a great time with “the boys” at one end of the table.

The service was exceptional, including the fuss the servers made over Don’s birthday which only added to the festivities.  Once again, this lovely group of people engaged in uproarious laughter and interesting conversation.  

We all were served shooters, hosted by owner Tony.  Tom drank mine.  I’ve never done a “shot” in my life.

The drinks flowed as the participants savored the interesting drink menu options.  I stuck with plain sugar-free tonic water since I prefer not to drink wine during the day.

We didn’t get back to Kathy and Don’s home until around 1630 (4:30 pm) and at that point, none of us could imagine eating dinner.  But, around 1900 hours (7:00 pm) we all pitched in and made an excellent dinner of pork chops on the braai, potato salad, green beans, cooked spinach and salad with avocado and dined at their formal dining room.

We chatted with the owner Tony, who ensured we had an extraordinary time.  Dining at this fantastic restaurant is well worth a drive if you’re anywhere near the Johannesburg’/Pretoria area or passing through on the highway.  Here’s their link.

We’re grateful to Kathy and Don for hosting us so graciously.  It was incredibly easy for the four of us being together and the addition of the friends and family only added to our excellent weekend.

Next time you’ll hear from us, we’ll be back in Marloth Park with only 38 days remaining until we leave Marloth Park.  We’ll treasure each and every remaining moment we spend in the park, savoring the beauty of the bush, our wildlife friends and of course, our human friends as well.

Be well.  Be happy.

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Photo from one year ago today, January 7, 2018:

A decorative pond with a statue at a botanical garden, Jardin Botanico. in Buenos Aires. For more photos, please click here.

Fantastic days and nights in Pretoria…

Tom and I hid in the bedroom and once the others arrived, we suddenly appeared surprising everyone.  In the background is Keith (Don’s brother) and Ken, with Don and Linda in the centre and Robin and Karen in the foreground.  It was a fun surprise.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Two hippos we spotted when visiting Rita and Gerhard’s temporary condo at Ngwenya on Thursday evening.

The past few days have been a whirlwind of activity and socializing.  It couldn’t have been more fun.  Kathy and Don are perfect easy-going hosts and every moment with them and friends has been an over-the-top experience.

For the first time since we can remember, we’ve slept in twin beds which are comfortable with exceptional bedding.  We actually got some much-needed sleep last night after a fun-filled day for Don’s birthday.

In attendance were Karen, Keith’s daughter and his adult granddaughter Robin (Don’s niece and grandniece, respectfully),  friends Linda and Ken who’ll be staying with us in Marloth Park for a week beginning on the 14th, and Don’s brother Keith and the four of us for a total of nine. 

The lovely table setting on Kathy and Don’s veranda.

The birthday party began at noon for a birthday lunch and continued well into the evening.  By 2100 hours (9:00 pm), the others left and we stayed up chatting with Kathy and Don in their comfortable living room until we all drifted off to bed.


Kathy had prepared a delicious lunch of prawns on the braai, chicken wings and chicken pieces, potato salad, and an outstanding avocado lettuce salad.  With plenty of leftovers, in the evening we finished off the remaining food.


The champagne and drinks flowed with ease and the conversations around that table on the veranda was a mix of somewhat controversial subjects and world travel experiences.  It was fun watching and hearing Tom and Robin’s hands flying as animated voices expressed their views on many topics.

The beautiful pool in Kathy and Don’s garden.

Linda and I chatted enthusiastically anticipating their upcoming visit and later after she and Ken left to tend to their dog at their home about 40 minutes away,  Keith and I got in a huddle and chatted for hours. 


This morning, I was up, showered and dressed for the day by 7:00 am and Tom slept in a little longer which is unusual for him.  Kathy and I took off for Click’s Pharmacy this morning when I needed a few cosmetic items I hadn’t been able to find in Komatipoort.


Soon, we’re taking off for a bit of sightseeing and then at 1300 hours (1:00 pm), we’re heading to a Mexican restaurant a 30-minute drive from here.  The entire group, the nine of us are meeting for lunch. 

View from their top floor veranda.

We haven’t been to a Mexican restaurant since we were in the US in 2017.  We’re both looking forward to savoring Mexican food, much of which I can eat such as the meat, veggies, and guacamole.


Tonight, we’ll dine at the house again and tomorrow morning, we’ll be returning to Marloth Park.  It’s been a fast and fun several days and yet, we look forward to returning to Marloth Park.  We’ve seen on Facebook, there were some fires in the park and power outages.  

May your Sunday be filled with good friends and good food!
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Photo from one year ago today, January 6, 2018:

There were no photos posted one year ago when we described the upcoming cruise on which we sail on March 24, 2019, from Santiago, Chile.  Instead, we posted the itinerary as shown below:

San Antonio, Chile to San Diego, California
15 nights departing March 24, 2019, on Celebrity’s Celebrity Eclipse
Our price:  ZAR 
54252.98 ($3,885.68 tips included) 
(Prices listed here are for both of us included taxes and port fees)

Date Port Arrive Depart
Sunday, March 24 Santiago (San Antonio), Chile 9:00pm

Monday, March 25 La Serena, Chile 10:00am 6:00pm

Tuesday, March 26 At Sea

Wednesday, March 27 At Sea

Thursday, March 28 Lima (Callao), Peru 7:00am 5:00pm

Friday, March 29 At Sea

Saturday, March 30 Manta, Ecuador 10:00am 6:00pm

Sunday, March 31 At Sea

Monday, April 1 Puntarenas, Costa Rica 7:00am 4:00pm

Tuesday, April 2 At Sea

Wednesday, April 3 Huatulco, Mexico 10:00am 8:00pm

Thursday, April 4 At Sea

Friday, April 5 Puerto Vallarta, Mexico 9:00am 5:00pm

Saturday, April 6 Cabo San Lucas, Mexico 9:00am 5:00pm

Sunday, April 7 At Sea

Monday, April 8 San Diego, CA 7:00am

What??? We’re where? …Five hour road trip?…

Don, on his birthday, knocking lemons off the tree in their yard for us to take back to Marloth Park.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Zebra butts on the side of the road when we left Marloth Park yesterday morning.

It’s odd that as world travelers we don’t care for long road trips. What can we say? Tom despises traffic which causes him considerable angst and stress.

For us, driving long distances even for a day doesn’t hold much appeal.  Sure, we often embark on many shorter trips to investigate various points of interest but all day trips inspire us to fly as an alternative.

Tom, at dinner at MooMoo Restaurant at the Brooklyn Mall.

When last Saturday night with the nine of be boo boous at Jabula Lodge and Restaurant Don suggested we drive from Marloth Park to his and Kathy’s home Pretoria for his 66th birthday party, I looked across the big table and said to Tom, ‘Want to go to Don’s birthday party in Pretoria next weekend.”

I looked to Kathy hoping she was fine with Don extending the invitation before he discussed it with her.  She was smiling from ear-to-ear, making us feel at ease knowing this was a good idea for her as well.

My already-tasted fabulous filet mignon, cooked rare, with roasted vegetables and a small side salad.

Tom, engaged in lively conversation with his talking hands flailing about, stopped chattering long enough to look at me and state an emphatic “Yes!” without hesitation. 

That night on the way back to our bush house I asked him if it was OK about the long drive.  Our friendship with Kathy and Don was motivation enough for him to make the long drive.

Interior of MooMoo Restaurant.

We left the house at 10:20 am and arrived at the security gate to their house at 1640 hours, (4:40 pm) and they warmly greeted us as they opened the large metal gate.

Their home is absolutely stunning, exactly as they expected.  The grounds, the décor, and the ambiance is warm and inviting.  Tomorrow, we’ll be posting photos of their house here in Pretoria which happens to currently be listed for sale.  Of course, we’ll include the link for the price and the listing information. 

The name of this shooter is a “Soweto Toilet.”  Tom gulped it down in one fell swoop.

Kathy and Don own a gorgeous bush home in Marloth Park, overlooking the Crocodile  River and several homes in Oahu, Hawaii. By selling this house, it provides them with an opportunity to spend more time in Marloth Park and Hawaii.

Being here at their modern, gorgeously decorated home in a lovely suburban area reminds us of being in the USA.  There are few insects, there’s no dust covering every surface, the temperature is less humid and considerably cooler and the availability of shopping and services is overwhelming.

Tom reaching to grab lemons off of the tree.

Last night, we headed to the Brooklyn Mall for dinner at the popular restaurant MooMoo for a fantastic meal. We all ordered delectable steaks, cooked to perfection with interesting and delicious side dishes.  


It proved to be a great evening.  After returning to their home after dinner, we congregated in their beautiful bar area for more lively chatter and nightcaps.  It couldn’t have been a more perfect afternoon and evening.


We’d intended to drive back to Marloth Park on Sunday morning but Kathy and Don asked us to stay until Monday. So tomorrow, Sunday, they will show us some of their favorite sites in the big city.  

Kathy’s birdhouses.  Without the wildlife in Marloth Park, Kathy spends time feeding many birds that visit the garden.

We enthusiastically agreed to stay and Monday morning we’ll head back to Marloth Park, thrilled for the time we’ll have had with Kathy and Don and excited to return to see our wildlife and human friends who’ll hopefully be returning to our garden. 


Today is Don’s birthday party and friends Linda, Ken and Don’s brother Keith have no idea we’re here.  Seeing them will constitute a fun surprise for the birthday party when we all so much enjoy their friendship as well.


Tomorrow, we’ll be back, as mentioned above with photos of Kathy and Don’s beautiful home and details.  Please stop by once again.


Happy day to all!

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Photo from one year ago today, January 5, 2018:

Tom ordered a barbecue pork sandwich at La Panera Rosa in Palermo, Buenos Aires, Argentina which came with three onion rings.  It was as dry as it looked.  For more photos, please click here.

Fabulous goodbye-for-awhile birthday party in the bush…An appreciated addition to the veranda…

This space heater will keep up warm as we spend each night outdoors during the cool winter nights.  See the details in the story. 

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

A hornbill sitting in the top section of the bird feeder. From this site: “Most are arboreal birds, but the large ground hornbills (Bucorvus), as their name implies, are terrestrial birds of open savanna. Of the 24 species found in Africa, 13 are birds of the more open woodlands and savanna, and some occur even in highly arid environments; the remaining species are found in dense forests.”

I had promised food photos from last night but I’m failing to live up to my promise.  We just had too much fun and, other then the few we’ve included here today, I was just too busy and engaged in the festivities to think about taking many photos.  Sorry about that!

Aloe Vera is known to be one of the most healing plants on the planet.  They grow wild here in the bush.  We took this photo yesterday at the brick overlook in Marloth Park on the Crocodile River when we drove around the park looking for the lions.

None the less, here’s the menu from the birthday dinner, overall, an all-American feast:

  • Cheese sticks
  • Moist less-fat biltong (amazing jerky found in South Africa)
  • Marinated grilled pork chops on the braai
  • Marinated grilled pork tenderloin on the braai
  • Roasted vegetables
  • Sweet corn cooked on the braai
  • Garlic mashed potatoes
  • “Par 30 Salad” (a recipe from our old lives given to me by a chef at a golf club)
  • Ciabatta garlic bread, dusted with Parmesan cheese and broiled to a light brown
  • Homemade gluten-free apple crisp served warm and topped with a dollop of vanilla ice cream
Our guests, Kathy and Don and Linda and Ken arrived with heavy coats, not knowing we had the heater.  It kept all of us comfortable all evening.

Actually, this was an easy dinner to make.  The only time-consuming items were peeling the apples for the apple crisp and then peeling the potatoes.  I hadn’t made either of these items in seven years since I began my way of eating. 

Instead of birthday cake for Kathy’s birthday, I made gluten-free apple crisp, served warm and topped with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.  I didn’t eat it due to the sugar content but everyone said it was delicious. 

My potato peeler that travels with us finally bit the dust and the one in the kitchen was equally dull.  Thus, I had to use a paring knife which was slow and cumbersome.  In my old life, I had an electric peeler that worked fabulously.  But, this isn’t my old life and the trade-offs are worth it. 

This past week on the 4th of July was Ken’s birthday, yesterday was Kathy’s and on the 16th is Linda’s.  We celebrated all the birthdays with champagne, gifts, and merriment.

Last night, Ken walked out to the pond and took this photo of the noisy frog we’ve been hearing each night.  It’s actually very small as shown while it’s leaning on a leaf, next to a Helmeted Guinea Fowl feather.

It was a fantastic evening for all.  All the food came out as we’d hoped and the drinks flowed, starting with Pina Colada’s, then to champagne (sparking brut) and then to each of our own preferred wine and cocktails.  I drank my usual low-alcohol red wine and Tom had his usual brandy and Sprite Zero.

Tom backing away from the band of mongoose after he sets down the bowl of eggs.

In Marloth Park, it’s a tradition that dinner guests bring their own preferred beverages such as wine, beer or liquor.  It’s a great tradition since it keeps the cost and convenience of entertaining within reach for everyone.  In some cases, hosts will start the evening with a special celebratory beverage such as the Long Island Ice Teas, at Kathy and Don’s home on the 4th of July.

At times, we have dozens in the yard.  Yesterday, there were only about 25 mongooses clamoring around the bowl of raw eggs.

I don’t consume any mixed beverages of any type (due to sugar) nor was I able to eat anything on the above menu except for the pork and roasted vegetables.  The remainder had too many carbs or included dairy, not befitting my diet.  I didn’t mind a bit.  As the proverbial hostess, I always love seeing our guests enjoy our offerings.

Let’s backtrack a bit.  Earlier in the day while on our daily drive in search of the lions currently in the park, I had an idea about the cold nights we’ve been experiencing on the veranda.  There’s no way we want to have to be indoors in the evenings.  What if we could find some type of space heater or outdoor heater?  After all, winter has only just begun and it’s very cool at night.

Even after the bowl is empty they continue to lick the bowl trying to get the very last drop of the eggs.

We stopped at a few places while we were out yesterday but couldn’t find a thing that would work for us last night and going forward, certainly not in Marloth Park shops.  With the busy day, there wasn’t enough time to drive to Komatipoort or Malelane to see what we could find.

We resigned ourselves that our dinner party would require warm jackets once the sun was set around 17:30 (5:30 pm).  As we often do when we have questions I sent Louise a message asking where she’d recommend we go on Monday to purchase some type of outdoor heater.

We were busy inside the house preparing for last night’s dinner party.  But, we knew the mongooses had arrived by the high pitched cackling and squeals.  Tom always drops a few un-cracked raw eggs on the ground to keep them around while we make up the bowl of six to eight eggs (depending on the size of the “band”).

Within seconds, she replied, “Hahaha, I’ve got one for you.  Just wait and see.”
“What???” I asked in a state of total shock.

Within ten minutes, Zef and Vusi showed up in the “buckie” (truck) with one of those fabulous gas heaters seen in some outdoor restaurants on a chilly night as shown in today’s main photo.  We had a bottle of gas on hand and in a manner of minutes, it was all set up and ready to use. 

How did we get so lucky to have Louise and Danie as our friends and our “landlords?”  Their kindness, attention-to-detail, and generosity are like none we’ve seen anywhere in the world. 

Oh, don’t get me wrong, we’ve had nothing but wonderful landlords over these past years of world travel, many of whom we still stay in touch.  But, these two?  Over-the-top, all the way around.  If you’re looking for a property to rent or build in Marloth Park, these are the people to see.  The friendship and socializing with them is such a bonus, we’ll always treasure.

The heater kept us all warm and comfortable and tonight while we dine on leftovers, we’ll be right here on the veranda as we are now, lapping up every moment of life in the bush.

Have a spectacular weekend wherever you may be!

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Photo from one year ago today, July 7, 2017:
There was no post on July 7th, the date we flew from Minnesota to Nevada where we spent three weeks with son Richard at his home in Henderson.  More will follow.

Birthday party photos…Oh, what a night!…

We’ll always remember this birthday as a special event for both of us; celebrated life, health, our experiences and the fine friends we’ve made along the way.

 “Sighting of the Day in the Bush

Colorful face shot of a helmeted guinea fowl, many of whom are frequent visitors to our bush house.

It’s after 12:00 pm and I’m just getting started on today’s post.  There were a few diversions this morning keeping me from getting a timely start.  One delay was due to my sleeping in until 8:00 am after a long stretch of wakefulness during the night.  I guess it was the two glasses of red wine I drank during my birthday party. 

Secondly, I had complicated computer problems this morning (won’t bore you with the details) when I sat down at the big outdoor table to begin the post.  After a few hours of working on it, attempting to stay calm, I created somewhat of a workaround hopefully lasting until I fire up my new, yet unused laptop. 

I‘ve been trying to use this three-plus-year-old Acer laptop until it’s on its last leg and it appears that day may be imminent. Based on all the jousting around in our travels and excessive use, I’m surprised its lasted as long as it has.

Dawn had decorated the table beautifully for the party.  Thanks, Dawn!  By the time we were all seated it was dark, cozy and romantic.

The second distraction was when our housekeeper Martha, who lives in a tiny house on the property, asked if we could help fix her TV.  We walked to her little place and played with the remote, attempting to get a signal.  Finally, we got it working and the dear woman hugged us with gratitude. 

We could only imagine how hard it would be for her to be without TV during her free time.  Although she works for us and a few other properties for Louise and Danie, she has idle time that could be lonely and difficult without the ability to watch her favorite shows.

The third distraction was to run to the little market in Marloth to see if we could find mushrooms for a dish I’m making tonight.  The mushrooms are an integral ingredient in the recipe and it just wouldn’t be the same without them. 

We were thrilled with the “cake of the world!”  Janine even made the two representations of Tom and me totally by hand.  Wow!

We didn’t feel like driving all the way to Komatipoort for mushrooms since we really didn’t need to do any other grocery shopping right now.  The round trip drive is over an hour and certainly not worth it for only one item.

There are two superette type markets in Marloth Park, one with about 30% more inventory than the other.  Alas, we headed to the larger of the two and found fresh mushrooms.  That was surprising!

Back at the house, I settled into my usual spot on the veranda to finally get started on today’s post about last night’s birthday party. A few visitors stopped and again I was distracted from the task at hand.  Oh, well, here we are now, pushing 3:00 pm and anxious to share last night’s event.

Closeup of Tom and I in fondant standing atop the world!  So fun!

Tom and I arrived at Jabula shortly before 6:00 pm where we met with Jannine, the cake lady, her husband Vincent and their two kids while they waited for us in the rain tucked under an overhang. They’d arrived earlier than planned and fortunately, we’d done the same.

Although it was pouring rain when we arrived, they’d already carried the cake up the steep stairs to the restaurant.  As soon as we stepped into the bar and spotted the cake we both smiled from ear to ear.  It couldn’t have been more perfect.

As shown in our photos, the cake was actually made round into the shape of the world with each of the continents added utilizing fondant.  The two little characters she’d made to represent us couldn’t have been more adorable and befitting. 

Kathy, me, Tom, Lynne and Danie at the end of the table.

What a talent!  Known as the “cake lady” in these parts, Jannine can be reached through Vincent’s email here should you live in Marloth Park or nearby and would like a unique and delicious cake.

We paid for our cake, reasonably priced at US $56.54 (ZAR $650) and hugged them both for their attention to detail and for delivering the cake to Jabula. Shortly after Jannine and Vincent left, our guests began to arrive.  We mingled around the bar until it was time to be seated.

Dawn, the co-owner of Jabula with husband Leon, set an exquisite table for our group and had the plastic-encased menus printed with the selections as well as the photo of us sipping champagne on the Zodiac boat only weeks ago in Antarctica. (See photo below). It couldn’t have been more perfect.

Linda, Mick, and Louise with Ken and Don standing.

The evening flowed with lively upbeat conversation, not only about the commonality we all share in our love for Marloth Park but also many other interesting topics.  The time flew so quickly, when it was time to go, we felt as if we hadn’t had quite enough of this wonderful group of people.

The specially printed menu added a nice touch.

The food was exceptional.  We hosted the meal and both red and white wine served during the meal.  Afterward, I cut the cake which tempted me to lick my fingers but I didn’t taste a drop.  


I’d thought about making an appropriate cake for me but I really didn’t feel a need for it.  I try to avoid getting back into a taste for sweet foods which I’ve all but conquered over these past few years.

I’d asked our guests not to bring gifts but they couldn’t seem to avoid doing so.  When doesn’t a girl love a 50 pound (23 kg) bag of pellets, a bag of almond flour, bars of scented soaps, and a bottle of fine South African wine in a lovely African cloth holder beside all the lovely cards and messages? 

A few of the guys had “espetada” which is well-seasoned meat of a hanging skewer.  Gee, I might try this sometime but I always have the same meal at Jabula; peri peri chicken livers with a Greek salad.

A heartfelt thanks to all of our friends for knowing exactly what I’d love, none of which I’ll have to add to my luggage next time we fly away, after blissfully using up all of the items.

Back at our inviting holiday home, referred to as “Orange…More than Just a Color” I checked my computer to find more birthday wishes than I’d ever seen in the past; from our readers, our Facebook friends, our family, and friends.  I must say I was reeling from the love I felt from all over the world. 

After the dinner plates were cleared the cake was delivered to the table.  Thanks, Kathy for bringing the candles!

Thank you with all of my heart for making the 70th birthday one I’ll always remember, not for the celebration of the “number” but for the people who made it so special. 

__________________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, February 21, 2017:

Views of the Huon River in Tasmania.  For more photos, please click here.

Tom’s family sure knows how to throw an 80th party…Happy birthday, Margie!

Margie with one of her two birthday cakes.  This photo was taken by nephew Joe’s wife Donna before our arrival around 4:30 pm. The party had started at 2:00 pm, and by the time we arrived the cake was cut. Thanks for the good photo, Donna!

The birthday party invitation read the event was starting at 2:00 pm. Knowing how late Tom’s family can stay up to have a good time, we decided to head out a little later to get a few things taken care of in preparation for our upcoming departure from Minnesota in a mere 12 days.

With few daylight hours together at the hotel (other than while I’m preparing the day’s post), we did some laundry while I began the process of taking all the tags off Tom’s new clothing, neatly folding each item into a tidy pile.  Sure, he could do this himself, but there are just some things better left to me. So, he did the laundry while I snipped and folded.

When I met Tom three days short of 26 years ago, I attended a party in a garage for the first time in my life. I’d never heard of such a thing but now all these years later it’s the expected location of his family parties in my mind. Many lingered inside Paulette and Mark’s home and around their exquisite lakefront yard with the huge group.

The shirts, tee shirts, socks, and underwear, all overly tagged and wrapped in excess amounts of cardboard, plastic, and paper, took longer to prepare than I’d expected.  What’s the deal with all this “packaging?” A simple price tag stuck to the item’s promotional tag is all that’s required.

Those little plastic tags that, once snipped, leave a “T” shaped piece often caught in an unreachable spot are quite annoying.  If it weren’t for those, I’d have been done in half the time. Leaving one of those items behind is a huge annoyance for the wearer when these little buggers hurt and scratch until they’re found and removed.

After we were done, we packed our handy Celebrity Cruise Line shopping bag (I don’t own a handbag) with iced tea, tea bags, and zippered sweatshirts. It’s been cool these past several days, and a party in a garage could become chilly as the day wore on. At the moment, at 11:00 am, it’s a chilly 57 degrees in this area.

Tom’s blind brother, 24 years his senior, and his daughter Kathy who is a big help to him in his day-to-day life. Every day Tom sends our post to Jerry after deleting the photos.  He has a computer with text-to-talk technology suited to the blind and enjoys “hearing” our daily posts.

We’d expected hot weather while in Minnesota in late June. I guess we’ll have to wait for warmer weather until we arrive in Las Vegas soon, where at 9:00 am, it’s already 100 degrees with an expected high of 112 today, a little cooler than last week’s record-breaking 117. Wow!

The drive to Ham Lake didn’t take as long as we’d expected, with light traffic on Saturday. With the help of the navigation system in the red SUV, we quickly found niece Paulette’s lake home.

Kaitlin is Tom’s sister Margie’s great-granddaughter which makes her Tom’s grandniece. Oh, gosh, how can I keep up?

We hadn’t been to their home in years, and after extensive remodeling, we hardly recognized it at all. We couldn’t help but admire the attention to detail, quality design, and amenities. 

But, oddly (or maybe not so oddly), we imagined (and easily recall) the commitment and cost required for the upkeep, maintenance and constant cleaning, an aspect of most people’s lives we gave up long ago. No longer do our weekends revolve around a trip to Home Depot and the time required to complete one project or another.

The party was held at Tom’s niece Paulette’s (husband Mark) beautiful lake home in Ham Lake, Minnesota. The food and drinks were abundant and delicious.  I was happily able to eat some roasted meats and munch on nuts.

Recently, when we stopped in a market for a few items Tom noticed the giant bags of water softener salt. He couldn’t stop smiling over how hauling those 50-pound bags was a part of his long-ago past.  

Tom recalls waiting until the salt was on sale and subsequently buying eight or 10 bags, loading them into his vehicle and bringing them into the basement.

Both white and chocolate cakes were served along with giant muffins.

Now, in this simple life we live, the only salt we haul is a little hand grinder filled with pink Himalayan salt to season our food. Ah, life is not only good, but it’s easy. Relatively.

No, we don’t have any negative feelings or perceptions of those who live a busy and fulfilling life of home ownership, of entertaining guests, or of spending time on projects they find meaningful and enjoyable. We did that. At the time, it was all we knew. 

Tom’s two sisters seated here are Margie and Mary.   Margie is talking to son-in-law Ken, Tom’s niece Ann’s husband.

And, we admire those who bring meaning and significance into their world with their dedication and commitment to their homes, families, and friends. It’s in this same manner we admire those who branch out in their retirement and find a warm climate where they spend the cold Minnesota (or other states) winters in a second home or traveling the country in an RV.

Then, of course, some cannot afford an RV, second home, or winter escape. And yet, we find ourselves reveling in other ways that those retirees and others find purpose in their lives.

Tom’s sister Colleen is hiding from the photo but showing her adorable granddaughter, Ella.

Yesterday, while I sat at Jerry’s side during the party, he shared with me how he orders talking books through an organization for the blind read aloud on discs he inserts into his computer. It’s easier than trying to figure out and pay the outrageous fees for online text-to-speech books offered at various outlets. 

Daughter-in-law Tracy helps grandson Vincent hold Ella for the first time.

We’re so proud of Jerry, almost 89 years old, for finding ways to make these later years of his life enjoyable and with purpose. For him, this means of reading brings him considerable pleasure. And that’s why Tom never misses a day in sending him our posts with the photos removed. 

Jerry, you’re a great inspiration to us and Tom’s many other family members who celebrate life together regularly and with such enthusiasm. We find them all delightful.

Today, I’m off to a stage presentation of Shrek at a local children’s production company with daughter-in-law Camille and granddaughters Maisie and Madighan for a “girls only” afternoon. No doubt, it will be yet another great time spent with family.

Tom’s sister Margie with Kaitlin, her great-granddaughter, and Kaitlin’s baby Harper, who is Margie’s great-great-granddaughter, making Kaitlin Tom’s great-grandniece and baby Harper, Tom’s great-great grandniece. Whew!

We love all of you and are grateful for the efforts our family and friends have expressed in sharing valuable time with us during this memorable stay in Minnesota.

Thanks to Paulette and Mark for hosting the party and for all those who contributed food, drinks, and support for the large group. And, happy 80th birthday, Margie! It was a fabulous celebration so richly deserved by YOU!

Photo from one year ago today, June 25, 2016:

On our last morning in Bali, we had the joy of seeing this final “sighting on the beach. Wow! Was this Mother Nature’s way of saying goodbye? We were happily returning in two months for another two months after we visited Southeast Asia. For more Bali photos, please click here.

Best birthday gift ever!…I got a diagnosis and hopefully good solution!…Happy day…

Tasmanians seem to place various means of transportation atop buildings, as shown in several of our past photos.

Yesterday morning, while working on the post, I stopped for a moment to check my email. Since it was my birthday, it was fun to see how many email messages I received from family and friends, along with a variety of adorable online cards.

When I noticed a message from the doctor’s office I visited in Geeveston as recommended by Anne, I was shocked to see another blood test result had come in indicating it was positive. I was instructed to return to the office of Dr. Angela Retchford for a new prescription.

Yesterday, while at the pharmacy in Geeveston, we noticed this antique wagon atop the bakery/restaurant.

Honesty, I was thrilled. Who’s ever thrilled to get a positive test result? I was. After almost three months of suffering from an awful gastrointestinal issue that didn’t improve regardless of what I ate or what remedies I tried, I was excited to have a diagnosis.

Maybe now, with the new medication, I could improve. So last Tuesday, the doctor prescribed a PPI (proton pump inhibitor), which I was to take for 60 days, stop, and head to a gastroenterologist in Sydney if not improved. 

It was raining with the sun shining.  In South Africa, Okee Dokee taught us the Afrikaans expression, “Jackals trou met wolf se vrou.” In Afrikaans, this phenomenon, i.e., when it rains, and the sun shines, is referred to as Jakkals trou met wolf se vrou, meaning ‘Jackal marries wolf’s wife.”

With our plans to leave Sydney for the US on April 22nd, the 60 days will end about one week before we were scheduled to sail away, leaving little time for more tests and doctor appointments.

When the prior blood tests came in only two days after blood was drawn, with only one anomaly I’ll deal with later in the US when I have the test repeated; I assumed we were done until the doctor explained at my second visit that one test was outstanding. Then, after nearly a week had passed and I hadn’t heard a word, I assumed all was well. 

The doctor and receptionist explained that “negative” results on a test wouldn’t require communication with us, saving them time and money when avoiding contacting patients when all was well with tests. But, of course, with no local phone number, I asked for all communication to be accomplished via email.

The Pie Shoppe in Geeveston.  We avoided it.

As soon as I uploaded the post, Tom and I jumped in the rental car and headed directly to the doctor’s office, Geeveston Medical Centre found at this link, to discover the blood test resulted in a “positive” diagnoses of Helicobactor Pylori, aka, H. Pylori is a gastrointestinal bacterial infection as follows from this site:

“What Is H. pylori

H. pylori (Helicobacter pylori) are spiral-shaped bacteria. H. pylori bacteria are unique because they produce the enzyme urease that allows the bacteria to live in the harsh environment of the stomach. The urease enzyme it produces reacts with urea to form ammonia that neutralizes enough of the stomach’s acid to allow the organisms to survive in the tissues.”

This is one of the possible conditions I’d researched online. In speaking with Tom over and over again, trying to figure out when in fact, the symptoms may have begun, we realized it was in Bali when I’d complained of bloating, which prompted me to stop drinking coffee, iced tea, and hot tea. Why was I getting bloated from drinking liquids?

In thinking back to our total four months in Bali, I’m now certain the symptoms began there. Not in control over the most sanitary of conditions under which I prepare meals, and with ants crawling all over the kitchen counters and dishware, I could easily have picked up the condition while there. 

“The Bears Went Over the Mountain” is a Geeveston boutique hotel with a cafe and tapas bar.  Click here for details

I was often in the kitchen wiping up when the girls weren’t there preparing meals, tossing out dirty-looking sponges and rags, and often concerned when food was left out longer than safe. During that period in Bali, I contracted an awful bacterial infection from eating squid.

Also, during this period, I took Aleve daily for the back injury, only exacerbating a potential breeding ground for H. Pylori. Thus, it was the right combination of circumstances to make me vulnerable for the full-blown infection, which was later exacerbated by drinking the wine on the ship.

After we left Bali the first time, we headed to Vietnam and Cambodia for the Mekong River cruise after a two-month stay, including multiple hotel stays. Unfortunately, we never ate anything off the street but could easily have made the situation worse, eating in various restaurants/hotels along the way. As a result, the bloating continued to worsen.

View of a farm on the Huon River.

I’d always joked that I had such a tough stomach that I could digest my shoe if I ate it. No longer is that the case. Traveling the world makes us all the more vulnerable to a wide variety of conditions and infections. Also, over the past few years, I contracted other infections requiring a few rounds of antibiotics.

By the time we got on the ship for the 33-night cruise, the infection must have been full-blown when I suffered from worsening bloating and the associated discomfort day after day, never connecting it with anything I was doing other than perhaps drinking too much liquid. 

I’d never had this problem in the past. Was it an “old age” thing I didn’t want to face? I’d noticed a lot of people my age with a distended abdomen, both women and men. 

Even driving along the roads in Tasmania is scenic.

I’d never discussed this with a doctor or even a friend. But, wouldn’t my “grain-free” lifestyle prevent me from a “Wheat Belly” when most of my life I’ve had a relatively flat stomach?

Now I know. What a relief! H. Pylori, a bacteria most of us carry harmlessly in our intestinal tract, was “brought to life” due to these myriad circumstances. With a prescription pack to treat the condition, which included two antibiotics and a smaller dose, I was taking a PPI to be administered once every 12 hours. 

This morning I took the first dose recommended by the pharmacist (since I’d already taken the PPI early yesterday morning). One day before our leaving from Sydney, I will have completed the one-week dosing. Then, in four weeks, it’s suggested I have another test to ensure the infection is gone. We’ll do this in Sydney during the 40 nights we’ll spend in Manly.

River views through the trees on a sunny day.

Need I say, this was indeed a divine birthday gift. Not knowing what was making it nearly impossible to eat without awful discomfort for the next five or six hours, I’d begun losing weight when finally I succumbed and started eating tiny meals, leaving me hungry all the time. 

It was a good birthday. Finally, finally, I’ve returned to my “old” (now older) cheerful self. Now, I must be patient and give the medication time to eat tiny portions to avoid discomfort in the interim.

So there it is, folks, hopefully, the culmination of my continuing health problems beginning this past June, almost eight months ago. We hope this resolves the problem and I can become more active while embracing the many exciting adventures yet to come. 

Thank you for all the kind and thoughtful wishes for good health and my birthday. You, our dear readers, be well, too!


Photo from one year ago today, February 21, 2016:

The cook at the Orangery in New Plymouth, NZ, fired up Tom’s Steak Diane Flambé using Pernot and white wine while taking this shot during my birthday dinner one year ago. For more photos, please click here.