Many photos from our fabulous Christmas Day dinner in the bush…

    The beautiful Christmas dinner table at Sindee and Bruce’s lovely home in the bush. Dawn was taking a photo of Sindee and the serving table, a short time later filled with great food.

Not having an idea of the type of dinner party at Sindee and Bruce’s home in the bush, we kept our expectations in check. We’d anticipated a buffet with guests sitting around the braai in the garden on chairs and benches with their plates of food on their laps.

A starter of prawns, sauce, and greens along with Christmas crackers with treats.

There were eleven of us, five of their family members, and six friends, including us. We were pleasantly surprised and delighted to see the beautiful table setting, adorned with gorgeous Christmas decorations including candles, miniature lights, crackers, colorful napkins, sparkling wine, along an array of crystal wine glasses. It couldn’t have been prettier.

There were many items on the menu that worked for me. I focused on meats and salads. I’d sliced avocados to go with the salad.

The six friends had brought various meats, salads, and side dishes. We’d brought the cooked, sliced prime rib and a large walnut, avocado lettuce salad. It was beautiful. The atmosphere and conversation were casual and engaging, and the hours flew by.

The meats included chicken, our prime rib, gammon (ham), and lamb, all delicious.

We rarely drink alcohol during the day, so I brought along my lowest alcohol-reduced wine with only 5% alcohol (when most wine is typically 13.5% to 14%). Tom brought a few cans of beer, and we sipped on our beverages throughout the day and early evening. We arrived at 11:30 and didn’t head for home until after 6:00 pm, 1800 hrs.

I couldn’t get enough of the lamb on the left in this photo. Tom doesn’t care for lamb, so I never make it.

Once back at our bush house, we put away all of our stuff, got into comfy clothes, and settled in for the evening. Later in the evening, Tom talked to his family members in the bedroom while I sat in the living room, talking to mine. It was beautiful to hear everyone’s voices, including our grandchildren.

Our dear friends and owners of Jabula, Dawn, and Leon.

While I was on my phone in the living room, I couldn’t help but notice hundreds of little bugs and ants all over the floor. At the moment, Tom is spraying the house while we are outdoors on the veranda, tossing pellets to Gordy (short for bushbuck Gordon Ramsey) and giant warthog One Tusk.

The animals aren’t as hungry as a month ago, with the bush now filled with lush green vegetation. They still stop by staring at us for some pellets out of habit. But, once we toss some their way, they eat slowly, often walking away with some pellets still on the ground. However, that’s not the case with warthogs. They’d eat until they burst if they had a chance. After all, they are pigs.

Sindee and Bruce’s two daughters, Mornay and Cyndy.

Today is a quiet day. Yesterday, as mentioned, I made an extra prime rib for us for tonight’s dinner. All we have to do for dinner is make Tom’s white rice and toss the salad with homemade salad dressing. I’m not big on reheating cooked beef, so we may eat it cold, which neither of us minds at all.

Over the years, I’ve tried various methods to warm cooked beef to maintain the level of doneness. But none of those methods seem to work to our liking, getting too well done in the process. We’d rather eat it cold than overdone.

Sindee and Bruce only married a few years, are a delightful couple, and so thoughtful to include us!

After dinner, we each have our cakes. As it turned out, Tom thoroughly enjoyed his German Chocolate birthday cake, saying it wasn’t dry after all. I don’t know if he’s saying this to make me happy. He’d do that rather than have me feel bad that the cake was dry.

Tom plate of desserts; lemon meringue pie and chocolate cherry milk tart. He went back for seconds. Not surprising.

We hope all of our readers/friends, and family members had a fantastic Christmas as we look forward to the upcoming end of this challenging year.

Be well.

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

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #276. The countryside in Tasmania certainly reminded us of New Zealand, where we stayed for three months in 2016. For more photos, please click here.

Visitors dropped by to see us…A pleasant surprise…A cultural occasion…

Gede and his family walked by with their offerings on their way to the shrine a few doors from us.  On the return walk, they stopped to visit with us.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

After the rain, Tom’s sunset photo.

With a slew of ideas for future posts while in Bali, we’ve yet to begin chipping away at the list we created before our arrival. It seems that each day brings a plethora of new photos and stories we can’t help but give top priority.

What a lovely family in their colorful holiday clothing!

Whether or not our recent posts are of interest to our readers, remains somewhat of a mystery, but we can only observe the of number hits in the stats to determine how many people around the world are stopping by. We continue to be astounded by our visitors after posting for 4 ½  years.  Thank you, people!

The offerings are placed at the shrine.

Yesterday morning, as we peered out at the sea from the cabana, we were pleasantly surprised when Gede, his wife and two adorable children walked by in exquisite colorful clothing on their way to the temple two doors from us.

It was beautiful for us to witness the family’s Hindu tradition.

The holiday they are celebrating is as follows with additional information here:
“Galungan is the most important feast for Balinese Hindus, a celebration to honor the creator of the universe (Ida Sang Hyang Widi) and the spirits of the honored ancestors.

The festival symbolizes the victory of good (Dharma) over evil (Adharma), and encourages the Balinese to show their gratitude to the creator and sainted ancestors.”

Two sweet little girls.

Gede’s lovely wife is seven months pregnant and was truly a sight to behold in her festive holiday garb.The two precious little girls were dressed in equally colorful and adorable attire. Gede looked handsome in his special sari all of which is shown in today’s photo. (We asked their permission for the photos).

This particular holiday, as in the case of most Hindu holidays, consists of colorful flower and food offerings again as shown in today’s photos. Yesterday, our own household staff placed flowers and offerings and burning incense both indoors and out.

Seated on the edge of the cabana, we chatted with Gede. His wife, Ayu suriani and two daughters, Kadek siska (younger) and Putu saskia speak no English so it was through facial expressions we were able to express our gratitude for their visit.

Whether the offerings were placed here for us or for them while they worked in the villa, we were honored to partake in the beauty and of course, the intoxicating smell. These are special people, gentle, kind, graceful and peaceful. We love and appreciate all of them.

Even as we lounge on the veranda or the cabana, passersby on the beach including children often yell “halo” while vigorously waving their arms. Where in the world have we discovered such warmth and welcoming?

Look at that adorable face on Kadek siska!

Today is Sunday. The staff is off and we’re on our own. We have a complete meal ready for the microwave and will only need to toss the salad with dressing at dinner time.

Today, its hotter and more humid than it’s been these past over two weeks since our arrival. We’re still in the bedroom in air conditioned comfort, showered and in our swimsuits, waiting for the morning humidity to lessen a little before we tackle the outdoors for the remainder of the day.

Gede’s older daughter, Putu saskia. Stunning!

With rain each day over the past week, the flies have been on a rampage anxious to nibble on human flesh influencing our desire to be outside right now. They seem to reduce in numbers as the day wears on. With a 90% chance of thunderstorms again today, its currently sunny. After each rain storm, the number of flies increases.

Some have asked if there’s a lot of insects here and there are, although most are relatively harmless except scorpions (we’ve only had one in the villa so far) and occasional visits by scary looking spiders. Otherwise, it’s mostly mozzies, flies and ants, lots of ants; huge amounts of ants; a gross amount of ants.

Gede explained that different colors are used during various part of the Hindu ceremony.

Ants in Bali are generally only bothersome around food and prep areas. At any given moment they are all over the kitchen regardless of how clean it is kept. Over these past years of living with ants, we’ve come to just flick them away, even if a few are crawling on our plates of food which is often the case. 

There are a few ants in the bedroom, but many in the bathroom especially in the shower. The two Ketuks clean the shower six days a week, but there’s still ants crawling up and down the walls.  Even under these circumstances, we’ve come to ignore them. If they’re not the biting red ants, we pay them little attention.
The Ketuks place this beautiful display of offerings in the villa containing food and flowers. Some of the flowers are edible and are consumed during the ceremonies.

Soon, we’ll head back outside for another glorious day in this outstanding villa in Malaya Beach, Sumbersari, Bali. How did we get so lucky to find this fabulous location where we’ll be spending another 38 nights plus an additional four nights at the hotel in Lovina (beginning in eight days)?  Safari luck?

In our old lives we’d never have imagined it would be possible or affordable to be spending 42 nights in Bali under these blissful circumstances.  Yet, here we are, lapping it up, in awe and with tremendous gratitude for every single moment.

May your day be blissful!

Photo from one year ago today, September 18, 2015:

In Fiji, one year ago, Badal, the neighbor Sewak’s dog, bounded up the steep hill with ease as we rode in Sewak’s truck.   It was the steepest road either of us had ever experienced in a vehicle. Badal came to visit every evening around dinner time hoping for a few scraps which we always provided. We’d asked Sewak if we could give Badal meat, since his beliefs surrounded vegetarianism.  But, Sewak didn’t mind if Badal ate meat.   For more photos, please click here.

Crossing the Equator in a few minutes…Hilarious King Neptune Celebration poolside…

King Neptune is getting ready to start the Equator crossing ceremony.

Soon we’ll be crossing the Equator and the ceremonies poolside is about to begin. We’re sitting at a table near the pool with new friends with Pat and Charles from Missouri, USA and having a blast.

The dancers heading out to the main area.

From Wikipedia, here’s info on the crossing of the Equator:

“The ceremony of Crossing the Line is an initiation rite in the British Merchant Navy, Dutch merchant navy, Royal Navy, U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Marine Corps, Russian Navy, and other navies that commemorates a sailor’s first crossing of the Equator. The tradition may have originated with ceremonies when passing headlands, and become a “folly” sanctioned as a boost to morale, or have been created as a test for seasoned sailors to ensure their new shipmates were capable of handling long rough times at sea. Sailors who have already crossed the Equator are nicknamed (Trusty/Honorable) Shellbacks, often referred to as Sons of Neptune; those who have not are nicknamed (Slimy) Pollywogs (in 1832 the nickname griffins were noted.”

There he is, King Neptune, the festivities have begun.

Soon the polliwogs will participate by the swimming pool as a celebration of our crossing the Equator. I’d never heard of a pollywog until this cruise which refers to those who’ve volunteered to be indoctrinated through a ritual that includes breaking eggs on their heads and tossing them fully clothed into the pool.

The human resource manager getting “egged.”

As the participants kneel to have the raw eggs broken over their heads the crowd is roaring and laughing over the fun antics. It couldn’t be more fun. At the moment, the hosts of the party just dumped cups of flour on top of the heads of those that had been egged. The crowd roars some more.

One of the hosts of the ceremonies, the Cruise Director.

The inclusion of various staff members in the festivities only adds to the frenzy of the crowd; the human resources manager and various ship officers. It makes us all laugh at how it must have been Roman times when people were mocked in the square especially when the staff members are being beaten with wet pasta.

It appeared that every passenger was watching the festivities.

Why is it we humans get a kick out of such festivities, I’ll never know. Perhaps, part of our humor is over the fact that we’re just happy it’s not us out there being egged, floured, and beaten with wet noodles. In any case, it’s rather humorous and neither of us is exempt from this good humor.

The “kiss the fish” ceremony.

Now, the environmental managers are having to “kiss the fish” which is hilariously followed by more egg breaking and flour dumped on their heads and down their shirts, and finally, full bowls of cost red pasta sauce dumped over their heads.

The second cruise director getting egged.

Now, passengers are volunteering for the final part of King Neptune’s Equator ceremony as a dozen seniors and a few younger passengers kneel on the floor to be indoctrinated as “pollywogs,” as those who are experiencing crossing the Equator for the first time in their lives. 

Getting “floured.”

Again, the broken eggs, the flour and the wet pasta, and finally, the red pasta sauce and the crowd is going wild.

Getting “pasta noodled.”

Today, we share these photos, tongue in cheek, admiring the brave souls who volunteered to be spectacles of themselves. The final volunteer was one of the cruise directors who are hilarious and a great sport.

Pasta and pasta sauce on the head of a brave passenger.
The Cruise Director getting floured.

As of this moment, we have crossed the Equator and are in the southern hemisphere for the next almost two years to come. The adventure has just begun!

What a brave guy!


Photo from one year ago today, May 28, 2014:

An ocean view in Madeira, Portugal one year ago.  It was at this time one year ago we began making some new plans for the future. Please click here for details.

A holiday message…

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate with warm wishes to those who don’t and to those who may celebrate another holiday this time of year.

Comfortably ensconced in this Henderson, Nevada home, from which we’ll leave in 48 hours to head back to Scottsdale for our final four days of organizing and packing. 

The five-hour drive awaits us as a time to unwind after the busy but enjoyable eight days of precious time spent with family reminiscing about the past and dreaming about the future.  It’s all so clear to me now.  More than ever.

The preparations for Tom’s birthday party on the 23rd, again last night, Christmas Eve, and today, Christmas Day flowed with ease for me.  I over-bought food, more than we could possibly need, throwing my cooperative house guests into an eating frenzy when they say so much less would have been fine. I agree.

Never in my past have I ever over-bought food as I have done this time. Perhaps knowing this was my last cooking “hurrah” for what may prove to be years to come, my association of “food is love” was definitely overdone. 

I couldn’t get enough, the preparation or the love, the laughter, the memories, the photos or the stories, old and new, or the sound of Tom’s laughter in the background. 

Saying goodbye.  For us now, it was all about saying goodbye.  A repeat of the sorrowful goodbyes in Minnesota.  As I have written in the past, our choice to embark on an amazing journey doesn’t make us exempt from feeling sad about leaving everyone behind.  It’s now becoming more real as we’re only 9 days away from leaving the US.

Today, Christmas Day is yet another family-filled day, the third in a row with too much good food, an abundance of stories we’ve all heard before, laughter filling the air, and love all around. Sound familiar? Ah, the human spirit gathers to celebrate this joyous time of the year.

Merry Christmas to all of our readers, the people we know, and the people we don’t know, and to the people all over the world as I see in the stats are somehow finding this blog reading it regularly. We’ll see you soon.