The mozzies are back…Along with the heat…Summer is on the horizon in Africa…

This is Fred and Ethel lying butt-to-butt in the garden with a helmet guinea-fowl looking om, hoping for more pellets.

Last night, there was a mosquito buzzing around my head every half hour or so. I covered as much of myself with the blanket, but it was hot in the bedroom, even though the aircon was on, set at 22C, 72F. Yesterday was a hot and humid day. Today is the same.

I ended up with one bite on my eyelid leaving my eye half-closed this morning and two bites on my hands which I had outside the covers most of the night. So here it is. Summer is coming in the bush requiring DEET repellent is applied at least three times a day and again before going to bed.

Two hornbills were standing on the veranda railing, enjoying some of Frank’s seeds.

This morning, Tom sprayed the bedrooms and bathrooms with Doom, and we now must keep the doors closed day and night to keep the flies and mozzies out of the bedroom, allowing us (mainly me) to get a decent night’s sleep. Tom is hard of hearing and doesn’t hear the mozzies, but they don’t bite him anyway.

Each warm season in the bush, Tom may get three mosquito bites without using repellent. Whereby I may get hundreds even though I use the repellent several times a day.

Spikey stops by five or six times a day, checking out the veg and pellet situation, which is often prolific when he arrives.

Tonight, we’re having Fiona and Alan here for dinner. For the sundowner starters, we have julienne fresh vegetables with Mediterranean hummus, crackers, and cheese along with a dish of macadamia nuts. I wanted to keep the starters light, so we don’t get too full for the main meal.

For the main course, we’re making individual bacon-wrapped pork tenderloins on the braai, not the prepared versions at the market, but hand-wrapped butt bacon-wrapped well seasoned without chemicals and preservatives.

Big Daddy stops by a few times a week to check out the pellet situation.

Also on the menu is a big platter of roasted root vegetables, garlic buttered sauteed whole mushrooms, seasoned rice, and an enormous salad packed with colorful seasonal vegetables and feta cheese, with homemade salad dressing. No bread or dessert will be served since all of us are avoiding high-carb, gluten-rich dishes.

As of this time, close to noon, I have almost everything chopped, diced, and prepared for the meal. I am cooking the roasted vegetables ahead of time since they require lots of attention while roasting in the oven, turning them every 30 minutes during a 90-minute cooking time. All we have left to do is cook the rice, saute the mushrooms and cook the meat on the braai.

When he doesn’t see any pellets, he positions himself close to us on the veranda to ensure we know what he wants. We comply.

After that, I’ll toss the salad and reheat the vegetables and we’re good to go. It’s always been important to me not to be stuck in the kitchen once our guests arrive. Tom will attend to the meat on the braai while I do the rest. Plus, he always does the dishes which is a huge help to me.

We don’t have a lot of new photos today. The past several days with lots of social plans, including another fantastic dinner and fun evening at Jabula last night, chatting with Dawn and several other guests, we were back home before 10:00 pm and off to bed in no time at all. Unfortunately, once I turned off the light, the mozzie started dive-bombing me. A short nap might be on the agenda today.

We hope you have a pleasant Saturday, wherever you may be.

Photo from one year ago today, September 4, 2020:

We posted this photo one year ago while in lockdown in Mumbai, India, on day #165. This was the kitchen sink at the house we rented in Kenya in 2013. The kitchen was so small, two of us couldn’t be in it at the same time. For more photos, please click here.

Old habits never die…Baking sweet desserts…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Homemade Gluten-Free Apple Crisp.

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

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

Happy day!

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

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

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.

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.

Another fun evening at Billy’s Bar & Grill in Anoka, Minnesota…

Billy's Bar & Grill, Anoka, MN | Scary places, Haunted places, Places
Here’s a photo of the famous Billy’s Bar and Grill in Anoka, Minnesota, where Tom’s relatives get together every Friday at 3:30 pm, when “Happy Hour” begins.

Yesterday afternoon and early evening couldn’t have been more fun. The second week, we met with Tom’s siblings and other family members at the popular Billy’s Bar and Grill in Anoka. Although it’s a long drive from our hotel in Eden Prairie, the time flew quickly while we chatted during the drive both ways and also when we were with the family at the bar.

Tom is hard of hearing, and when driving in South Africa on bumpy dirt and paved roads, we hardly chat when he can’t hear me due to road noise. Here in the USA, with smooth roads and a rental car with automatic transmission, we can actually talk during a long drive.

Billy’s is a great restaurant and bar. Happy hour begins daily at 3:30 pm, and the food and service are over-the-top for what may be considered standard bar food. But, when the meals are presented and tasted, everything about their environment comes to life. It’s not surprising to see the crowds as early at 3:30 pm, not only to partake of the great prices, free popcorn, and reasonably priced delicious food, but the fantastic service, attention from the in-person owner(s), and general pub-like and lighthearted atmosphere can’t be beaten.

Tom spotted this orange street rod when walking from the parking lot to Billy’s Bar & Grill.

Yesterday, we met owner Paul Justen, engaging in a delightful conversation. In a funny way, it reminded us of our favorite restaurant in Marloth Park, South Africa, Jabula Lodge & Restaurant, where we experience the same ambiance and attention from the owners along with the excellent food, which is unsurpassed by any nearby restaurant.

Billy’s Bar and Grill is located at 214 Jackson Street, Anoka. There’s a huge, easy-to-access parking ramp across the street with free three-hour parking and ample other parking spots nearby. Reservations for large groups may be helpful, but it seems the Lyman family always manages to get a good table with plenty of room for all of us.

The last time we were in the US in 2019, we also joined the family at Billy’s Bar and Grill for their usual Friday afternoon/evening get-together, and we were both thrilled to do so twice in the past two Fridays since we arrived on July 1st. Next Friday, we’ll be leaving for Milwaukee in the morning and won’t be able to join them.

When we were leaving Billy’s Bar and Grill, we noticed a table with a small stack of Billy’s complimentary logo tee-shirts. I grabbed one for me, as shown in the photo below. We left around 7:30 pm and headed back to our hotel in Eden Prairie to stream a few shows and later watch the local news. We haven’t watched TV in over six months! We’ve never even turned on the TV in our bush house in Marloth Park.

This will be a cool shirt to wear in South Africa when the weather warms up in a few months.

Speaking of our bush house, we paid rent while we were away, rather than packing everything and leaving it for other potential renters and perhaps their “germs.” Once we return to the bush, it’s comforting to know that our comfy two-bedroom bush house will be awaiting us and, hopefully, all of our favorite wildlife friends as well.

Then again, we’re looking forward to seeing our human friends as well. While visiting family and friends in the US, our dear friend Kathy (of Kathy and Don) will be arriving in the bush. We hadn’t seen each other in over two years, when we left in May 2019, three months after that dreadful surgery. However, we’ve stayed in close touch during the past two years. I can’t wait to see her in person finally.

Today is a low-key day. Most likely, Tom will visit his brother Jerome while I stay busy working on corrections on my laptop while he’s gone. It will be good for Tom to have some alone time with his eldest sibling. When Tom returns, we’ll head out for dinner, or we may end up doing takeaway since there are so many good options nearby.

May you have a pleasant day!

Photo from one year ago today, July 10, 2020:

A sunny day at the beach in Trinity Beach, Australia. For more photos, please click here.

An odd discovery about a favorite animal…Dinner party tonight…

This is Thick Neck, now discovered to be one and the same as Bad Leg. Note the size of his neck compared to the average-sized neck of the bushbuck in the photo below.

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 9 warthogs – inc. Lonely Girl, Fred and Ethel, Peter, Paul and Mary, and others
  • 12 bushbucks – inc. Chewy, Thick Neck/Bad Leg, Spikey, and others
  • 5 kudus – inc. Bossy, Little Daddy, Notches, and others
  • 33 helmeted guinea-fowl
  • 1 wildebeest – inc. Broken Horn
  • 2 Frank and The Miss
  • 3 hornbills

Something dawned on us in the past few days, but we continued to observe and concluded that Thick Neck and Bad Leg are the same. Shortly after we arrived in Marloth Park, five months ago as of yesterday, we took a liking to a thick-necked male bushbuck; we aptly named Thick Neck. He is shown in the main photo above.

The typical-sized neck of a bushbuck.

In no time at all, he responded to his new name and made a point of stopping by several times a day. The pellets, carrots, cabbage, and apples were plentiful for him when we could manage to toss the food to him when no pigs were around. The warthogs try to scare off any other animals when food is tossed but don’t do so well with kudus and wildebeests.

Then, over the past three weeks or so, we noticed a thick-necked bushbuck limping with his back right leg totally off the ground when walking. He didn’t seem too miserable and managed to get around, with his limitation. We surmise that eventually, it will heal when we’ve seen improvement as days passed.

A few days ago, it dawned on us that we’ve been referring to Thick Neck and Bad Leg as if they were two different bushbucks. After all, many of them look alike. But, none we’ve seen in these past months have had such a thick neck. Thus, we concluded that Thick Neck is also Bad Leg. He responds to his Thick Neck name. From now on, we’ll address him as Thick Neck/Bad Leg until his injury fully heals.

I had to take this photo through the screen, or the birds would have flown away. There were no less than 12 birds in the birdbath at one time. They were as noisy as they could be. Quite adorable!

In any case, we still favor him, and knowing he has a little trouble getting around, we can’t help but give him a little more than we may offer the others. Of course, Tom has a particular affinity for bushbucks. He always has. With no less than 10-12 visiting us each day, it’s impossible not to find them as special.

Tonight, we’re having a small dinner party, just five of us including Rita and Gerhard and our old friend Don (of Kathy and Don). Don arrived in Marloth Park, their other home(s) in Hawaii, about a week ago and stayed with Linda and Ken in Johannesburg to buy a car. Once this task was accomplished, he was on his way to Marloth Park. Kathy will arrive in mid-July.

Like many of our old friends in Marloth Park, Don stayed away at their “other” homes due to travel restrictions and concerns regarding Covid-19. Now, slowly, over the next several months, others will arrive after travel restrictions are released, and they’ve received their two-dose Covid-19 vaccinations.

Busy time in the garden with 9 warthogs.

I supposed, in a way, we’re not unlike them, when soon in 15 days, we’ll be returning to the US to get our vaccines, and then return to Marloth Park, less than a month later. The scary part for us is safely arriving in the US after over 35 hours of travel. Of course, we’ll proceed with the utmost caution.

Tonight, we’re preparing a leisurely dinner on the braai, beef, pork, baked potatoes, and sweet corn. Rita is bringing the salad. Making elaborate meals for guests is a thing of the past for us. We’d rather spend quality time with our guests than spend the bulk of the evening in the kitchen wrapping up the finishing touches of a complicated meal.

So, we wish all of you a delightful Monday, wherever you may be. In our world, being retired, one day of the week is no different than another. A Monday night is as good as a Saturday night!

Be well.

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

The walled city of Dubrovnik posted one year ago, visited in 2013. For more photos, please click here.

Tom’s laptop died…Its not easy to replace it in South Africa..A time consuming recipe…

Kudu females and their young stop by frequently, wondering what’s on the menu.

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 4 warthogs – inc Lonely Girl and others
  • 10 bushbucks – inc. Thick Neck, Bad Leg,
  • 15 helmeted guinea-fowl
  • 1 dove – inc. our favorite, Miss Dove
  • 4 Frank and The Misses

Regardless of where we’re living in the world, at some point, our digital equipment has to be replaced. But, unfortunately, ordering replacement products is pointless to ship to South Africa due to the high cost of shipping and delayed shipping times, and customs inspections and fees.

Crooked Face and Hal stop by for a few pellets.

In some countries, ordering a laptop from the US is relatively easy and painless such as when Tom needed a replacement laptop while we were in Fairlight, Australia. We ordered a new laptop for him from Amazon.com, and a week later, it arrived, not incurring customs fees. But, of course, we always have to figure in the shipping costs, which exponentially impacts our final cost for the product, at times as much as 40% or 50%.

Yesterday, when Tom’s Samsung Chromebook’s screen cracked when he opened the lid, we knew we’d better order another from South Africa. But, unfortunately, he couldn’t take the risk of a later delivery and the fact it could easily go “belly up” with its current touchscreen status, and he’d be without a device.

A busy garden on a sunny morning.

We considered the possibility that we may be in the US on July 1, and he could purchase a new device when we were there. But, with that trip totally up-in-the-air at this point, we couldn’t take a risk and possibly leave him without a working device. Thus, the online search for another Chromebook, an operating system we both have learned to use and like, after total frustration with Windows 10, we were determined to find another Chromebook.

Apparently, Chromebook is not popular in South Africa. After hours of research on numerous websites, we finally found a suitable Asus model with a touchscreen and the Chromebook operating system. Recently, we’ve been ordering several items from South Africa’s version of Amazon.com.

But, finding such a model was tricky regardless of what I entered in the search field. It was more of a fluke that I stumbled upon the model we purchased. Fortunately, it will arrive on June 9, only four days from today. Takealot is fairly reliable regarding its promised delivery dates, so Tom needs to make his last only four more days.

A little altercation between Medium Daddy and warthogs.

Tax and delivery were included in the price of ZAR 6200, US $462, a little more than we paid in the US in 2019 when he purchased his current model. If a laptop lasts us two years, we are fine with that. With all the stress on laptops when traveling, we figured two years is a good amount of time for them to last. We haven’t noticed any other more expensive models lasting any longer.

On another matter, since Tom is at his lowest weight and holding his own, even when eating a few higher carb items, I decided to make him some of his favorite low carb meals, maybe once a week, making enough for two or three nights for him. However, based on the fact these recipes have too many carbs for me, I won’t eat these meals; instead, making separate meals for myself such as chicken, fish, liver, and lamb, all meats he doesn’t care to eat.

Kudus stopped by in the muddy garden after the rain.

I don’t mind making separate meals for us for a few nights each week. But I’d forgotten how labor intensive some low-carb recipes can be. Today, I made Low Carb Chicken Pot Pie, one of his favorites, and long ago, one of mine. But, I have no problem resisting this meal. To aid in my determination, I made individual servings for him in rectangle-shaped tin foil pans. This way, I won’t be tempted to take bites of a single bigger pot pie. For my dinner tonight, I made extra chicken breasts and chicken liver. This will be fine for me.

This morning I got up earlier than usual to begin the multi-step process of making five nights of chicken pot pie for Tom, freezing the extras for other meals. By 11:00 am, I had everything completed and his first pot pie ready for the one tonight. While prepping the many ingredients, I ran back and forth to my laptop, searching for Tom’s new laptop.

Bossy, Big Daddy, and Little hanging around for pellets, carrots, and apples.

With both tasks completed, my dinner ready to re-heat at dinner-time, the remainder of the day can be spent wrapping up today’s post, working on corrections while continuing to recover from my recent illness. All that remains from the flu I had (not Covid) is a cough, no longer painful and gradually waning, a little each day.

Last night, as always, we had a fantastic dinner with Rita and Gerhard at Jabula Lodge and Restaurant. It was so cold, we all wore jackets while eating on the restaurant’s veranda. We didn’t stay long after dinner since it was so cold. When we returned to the house, I was so cold; I wore socks to bed. I haven’t done that since we were in Minnesota in 2019.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Photo from one year ago today, June 5, 2020:

Even imperfection has a certain beauty. For more from the year-ago post, please click here.

A wild start to day…All is under control now!…

Mom and baby elephant munching on the vegetation. We shot this photo from the veranda of the Mugg & Bean Restaurant in Lower Sabie in Kruger National Park.

With Louise and Danie coming tonight for sundowners and dinner, when the power went off before 8:00 am this morning, of course, I started thinking of how I’d prepare the food without the use of the electric oven. Everything I’d planned to make was to be cooked in the oven.

As soon as we were up and about, Tom ran out to purchase four bags of ice. When he returned I loaded up the chill box layering it with the perishables from the refrigerator, the items for tonight’s meal, and layered them in the unopened bags of ice, hoping the chill would last longer.

Baby elephant playing with another elephant in the Sabie River.

Also, I placed one bag of ice in a large metal bowl on a shelf in the refrigerator. This has worked well for us in the past as long as the ice stays frozen. I noticed the freezer was doing fine when I had to take out an item and it could conceivably keep the foods frozen for many hours to come.

I considered how I’d cook the main items we’d planned for the meal on the braai, as opposed to the oven, when some dishes simply cook better in the oven than on a grill, with a more consistent and even temperature. The braai would have been my only option and I contemplated the fact that everything wouldn’t be quite as well prepared as I’d planned. Plus, with three main dishes cooking on the grill at once, Tom would hardly have had time to socialize when he was busy tending to the food.

Elephants love to swim, using their trunks as snorkels. They are prolific swimmers.

Fortunately, the WiFi kept working during the outage. Most often it goes out within an hour or two of an outage since the towers run on batteries that don’t last long without electricity. I contemplated whether or not to post today when it was entirely possible, we’d have no connection in no time at all.

Much to our delight, while drinking our coffee while seated at the big table on the veranda, made with hot water that Tom heated on the side burner of the braai, the power popped back on. The way we know it’s back on is due to the fact Tom always turns on the outdoor fan. When the power returns, the fan starts running.

Elephants climbing out of the Sabie River in Kruger National Park.

Immediately, I got to work prepping the meal, warming the oven for the first item of slow-cooked smoked baby back ribs, and prepped the bacon-wrapped, Emmental stuffed chicken breasts. We’ll cook the jumbo prawns when they arrive. With a few side dishes, we’ll be good to go.

Now, while I’m cooling off in the bedroom with a little air-con after sweating profusely in the high humidity, I am preparing today’s post, sharing more photos from Kruger National Park. We can’t wait to return to the park and will do so next week. Our plan is to embark on a self-drive every week, especially on sunny days.

Elephants on the move.

Although it’s the weekend and our visitor count is usually lower than during the week, today was a good start to the day. We’ve had several visitors so far and look forward to more as the day progresses. Once I complete and upload today’s post, I’ll get back to work on prepping for tonight.

I don’t enjoy cooking as much as I did in years past, but we certainly love having guests for sundowners, starters, and dinner. In part, I think my diminished interest in cooking is due to the fact I don’t have all the cooking gadgets and serving pieces I had in my old life. Also, it’s often very hot and humid, like today, and sweating in the kitchen has an impact on my level of enjoyment. I suppose that’s to be expected.

Elephants crossing the paved road in Kruger National Park taken through the car’s windshield.

This morning, I spilled a little liquid from the bags of prawns onto the kitchen floor. Immediately, I wiped it up with hot soapy water. Less than 20 minutes later, while I was here in the bedroom cooling off, I could hear Tom busy in the kitchen, spraying with Doom and sweeping.

Apparently, my little spill attracted hundreds of ants from outside, who crawled under the front door to the spot on the floor where I’d spilled. When I asked him what happened, he explained about the hundreds of ants he killed and removed. I apologized for not cleaning the spot well enough, but he didn’t seem at all concerned.

Another Mom and Baby in the bush

This is the bush. It’s hot. It’s humid. And insects of many types are found inside the house daily. The power goes out regularly. The water stops flowing from time to time as it did last week. For many, these annoyances and inconveniences would be unbearable. For us, they are fair and reasonable trade-offs for the things that we do love.

Last night I jumped out of bed when some creepy crawler was walking on my neck. I got up, flicked it off, and then, shrugged it off, content I didn’t get bit. It’s the way it is. The bush. Nature’s paradise. What more could we ask for?

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, April 10, 2020:

Birdie, contemplating his day. For more photos, please click here.

Pleasant Easter in the bush…What’s on the menu?…Utility and cost of living for us in the bush…

Notice the puffed-up cheek on this giraffe. Aa they eat vegetation, they store it in their cheeks for short periods.

We had a very pleasant Easter in the bush. Many visitors came to call which is unusual during holiday weekends. Last night, at one point, we had nine warthogs in the garden, getting along quite well, although Tiny was chasing Mom, of “Mom & Babies” for romantic purposes, while the two babies tagged along wondering “What the heck” was going on.

Laughter ensued from our places at the big table on the veranda as we watched these peculiar wild pigs interact with us and one another. Each evening when they start arriving around 4:00 pm, (1600 hours) we grab ourselves a beverage and sit back and enjoy the evening’s entertainment. Last night was one of the best.

This wildebeest was the first animal we saw on this morning’s drive through Marloth Park.

By the time they left, our dinner was ready which Tom had prepared on the braai. It wasn’t a fancy or varied Easter dinner as mentioned in yesterday’s post. Tonight’s meal will be a little more interesting; homemade mozzarella stuffed chicken breasts, well -seasoned and wrapped in back bacon to be baked in the oven for approximately 40 minutes. On the side, rice for Tom and eggs for me.

When the mosquitoes became fierce outdoors, we headed indoors to our bedroom, turned on the air-con, and streamed a few favorite shows on HBO Max on my laptop. We use the kitchen’s wood cutting board as a base for my laptop, to avoid it getting too hot while situated on the bed. We’ve learned to adapt to watching on the small screen which we keep fairly close between us.

Several electrical poles in Marloth Park are leaning like this, certainly contributing to power outages during storms.

From time to time, we sign up for additional streaming services after we’ve canceled another. At most times, we have Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime and occasionally add another service for a particular show we’d like to stream.

In our old lives in the US, the cost of cable services was no less than  US $234, ZAR 3435, a month, almost 9 years ago. Of that total, US $79, ZAR 1160, was for unlimited WiFi, leaving US $155, ZAR 2275 a month for TV cable service with a few added select services.

We drove down Volstruis to find several giraffes munching on trees.

Now, with whatever streaming services we use during any given month, we usually spend about US $45, ZAR 661, and we’re free to cancel any one of those at any time. (Unlimited WiFi service is included in our rent here in Marloth Park). Soon, we’ll be dropping Netflix for a while since, during those 10 months in lockdown in the India hotel, we watched everything we wanted to see on that service.

Electricity, however challenging at times, is included in our rent, as well as running and bottled water, and gas for the braai. Our only living expenses in the bush consist of rent, groceries, and other supplies, dining out, pellets, fuel and car rental, tips for cleaning staff and servers.

It’s always delightful to spot giraffes.

Living in the bush in South Africa, we spend less than 50% of the expenses we’d bear if living in the US in a similar house, eating the same types of food, dining out once a week, and driving a similar economical car. Then again, what kind of a price tag can we put on the exquisite, daily experiences of being “one” with nature? For us, that is priceless!

Today, we’ll stay put once again with many tourists still in the park for a few more days. Once they leave, we’ll head to Kruger National Park and today, we commenced our frequent drives in the park searching for more and more photo ops which proved successful. It’s a peaceful, low-stress, highly entertaining, and enriching life here in the bush.

We were fortunate to get these shots this morning.

We remain grateful and humbled by nature and the humans surrounding us.

Off I go to work on the treadmill. Renting the treadmill has been another expense of US $40 a month, ZAR 587, but has proved to be well worth it, keeping me moving when I usually work out almost every hour during the day.

Munching on treetops.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, April 5, 2020:

Not quite sunset, sunny views over the Kenomane Bay in Kauai across the street from our condo in Princeville. Photos today from this post on this date, six years ago. For the year-ago post, please click here.

Late start to post…Busy day in town…What did we spend?…

Fred and Ethel. Fred is lying down. Notice warts on his face and Ethel is standing behind him. She had no facial warts, typical for females.

It’s after 2:00 pm on Monday and we’re having a later start than usual in preparing the daily post. Most likely, I will be breezing through this to be done by 4:00 pm, the time of day that I like to focus on making dinner, relaxing, hanging out with Tom, and watching the animals in the garden. Right now, the only visitors we have here are warthogs, Fred and Ethel.

It was a busy morning. First, we had a 9:00 am appointment at Dr. Luzaan’s dental office. We had our teeth cleaned, after a two-year hiatus and she conducted a full head x-ray to see if the tooth abscess was improved and hopefully gone. No such luck. Although it had improved a little, it wasn’t good enough to “wait and see.”

On Monday, March 1st, we have an appointment with Dr. Singh, the dental surgeon in Malalane when he will decide what needs to be done, most likely the removal of the crown, a comprehensive laser treatment, followed by a new crown. In the worst case, the tooth will have to be removed and since it’s forward in my mouth, I will need some type of a replacement tooth.

Due to having heart disease, I will have to take a mega dose of more antibiotics, one hour before the procedure, whatever and whenever it will be. Yuck. I don’t like any of this. But, who does? Dental work is not pleasant for anyone. Fortunately, my remaining teeth and gums are in excellent condition.

They posed for another photo with Ethel lying down and Fred standing.

Afterward the dentist appointment, we headed to Dr. Theo’s office for the results of some blood work and another exam. He feels my heart is good for now, but there were a few issues with my blood results which we’ll be working on going forward, too complicated to get into here now, which perhaps I’ll address here in the future, none of which are too worrisome at this point. As we age, we often encounter such issues.

Dr. Theo was confident we’ll be able to get the Covid-19 vaccine within a few months. This will give us the peace of mind many of us have been seeking during these challenging times. Of course, getting the vaccine doesn’t mean we won’t have to wear masks, social distance, wash our hands and take precautions going forward. It simply means, if we do get infected, we may not become as sick as we may have without it. That’s what we’re reading so far.

After the doctor, we headed to the pharmacy for a few items and then to Spar Supermarket for a few weeks’ worth of groceries. It’s not that we count out each day’s meals when we shop. It’s just that after all these years of shopping for the two of us, we have been able to gauge how much we need to purchase for a specific period. Today, we spent ZAR 3462.46, US $233.22, enough to easily last until we shop again in two weeks.

We’d expected the bill to be so much more when our trolley was brimming with three bottles of wine, a box of light white wine, laundry soap, a big lighter for outdoor insect repellent candles, and groceries. All of this would have been twice as much in the US.

They were exhausted after the photo shoot and from dining on pellets.

Our dental bill, including both cleanings and more x-rays, totaled ZAR $1265, US $85,21. The two appointments with Dr. Theo, including an ECG/EKG and two exams, totaled ZAR 1471.40, US $99.11. Amazing! Not only do we love South Africa for its wildlife and people, but prices on most services and products are considerably lower than in many counties in which we’ve lived over the years, including the US.

At the moment, we’re cooking a pork roast on the braai with dinner planned for about 5:00 pm. We’ve found that eating dinner earlier is more beneficial to our health when the entire meal is fully digested before bed, preventing any potential intestinal distress or acid reflux before lying down. We rarely eat anything after dinner

Yesterday was a scorcher when the humidity, combined with the temperature, was unbearable. Today, it’s much more comfortable and we’re having no problem enjoying the outdoors. If we can keep the mosquitoes at bay, I imagine we’ll be on the veranda, well into the evening.

That’s it for today, folks. I’m about to go indoors to work on a few side dishes for dinner. All is well. We’re content.

We hope you are content, too.

Photo from one year ago today, February 22, 2020:

We couldn’t have been more thrilled with our private tour guide, Dr. Anand Tiwari who had a doctor’s degree in Hindu idols. He explained he’d done a tour the prior day with guests on the Maharajas Express! What a coincidence and an honor for us! He can be reached here for tours. For the year-ago post, please click here.