Day #266 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Friends…Pigs in a pile, too!…

Little told his friend that the “pickins” were good at this house so they both climbed the six steps up to the veranda to the front door. 

Today’s photos which we enthusiastically share for a chuckle, are from this date in 2018 while we were staying in Marloth Park for a period of 15 months. For more on the post, please click here.

Friends. It’s rather amazing to be blessed with good friends. Without them, our lives would be totally different. Daily, we communicate with friends, via email, text, and social media, many from our old lives and new friends we’ve made along the way in our travels.

The Big Daddies didn’t seem as interested in the lucerne as the female kudus, but this one managed a mouthful.

The two places in the world where we made the most friends, were in Princeville, Kauai, Hawaii in 2015, and in Marloth Park, South Africa in 2013/2014 and 2018/2019. No doubt, an influencing factor in returning to South Africa, is due to the number of friends we made there, most of whom we’ve stayed in close touch since we left in May 2019, 20 months ago.

Knowing we’ll be able to spend time with so many of those friends when we hopefully arrive soon, only adds to the excitement of getting out of this hotel room after 10 months (as of our scheduled departure day on January 12, 2021). We realize that COVID-19 restrictions will be in place, even in the relatively safe Marloth Park, such as mask-wearing, social distancing, hand washing, etc.

“Pigs on the porch,” Pigs in the pond,” and Pigs in a pile,” and “Pigs in the parlor.” It’s “Pig Paradise in the Park.”

Will we be able to hug our friends when we will see them next month? We aren’t sure at this point. I suppose doing so will be predicated by the presence of COVID-19 upon our arrival, which can change on a dime. At this point, there are few known cases in MP and certainly no major outbreak, but we will remain cautious, even in the presence of the people we know and love.

With Marloth Park a popular tourist location, an outbreak could happen at any moment. We wonder if we’ll be able to go to Jabula for dinner, although they have ample outdoor seating. It’s one of those scenarios, we’ll simply have to play by ear. But, without question, our top priority will be protecting ourselves and, if it limits socializing and dining out, so be it.

“Little” was checking out what the kudus were eating. 

Our animal friends will surely visit in any case. The thought of sitting outdoors awaiting their arrival is a massive appeal and comfort to us now, a far cry from being stuck in this room a day longer than we have to. Speaking of wildlife and friends, I couldn’t resist posting today’s main photo of our friend Little, champion warthog, bringing a friend with him to visit us at our bush house in 2018, to share the bounty we so freely offered on a daily basis.

We laughed out loud then and over again over the past 20 months from this unique scenario many times. I think it’s easy for us humans to think we are the only creatures on earth possessing the depth of emotion to develop friendships with our own species. And yet, we’ve often seen this ability to make friends in our pets, for us, most often dogs.

Piglets in a pile.

In our old lives, we often laughed over the friends our dogs made over the years. We lived on a private road, not requiring our dogs to be on a leash, with just about every house on the peninsula with friendly little dogs. Some became friends with our dogs and others did not. But, it was not uncommon for us or our neighbors to have ours and their dogs in our houses visiting one another.

Some animals in the wild are no different. They find companions that they become attached to as much as their own family members, especially, as we’ve witnessed after spending considerable time in the bush observing wildlife on a daily basis. Most often, we observed this behavior in warthogs, often two females with or without piglets and males who often visited in pairs rather than large groups.

A male ostrich’s flattened feathers after a downpour.

They may, or may not, be related. Many species of wildlife hang out together in large family groups such as impalas and mongoose, giraffes, and others, while many twosomes we observed were actually mating pairs. But warthogs, pigs, are always rated in various studies as one of the smartest animals in the animal kingdom as indicated in this article. Pigs are reportedly smarter than dogs. And we all know how smart our dogs are!

In any case, we’ll be back amongst “friends” both human and animal, in a mere 30 days. We hope.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, December 14, 2019:

We sat outside on the veranda several times during our stay in Apache Junction, Arizona, frequently using the gas grill. The weather is warm and sunny most days. For more photos, please click here.

 

 

 

 

Blizzard coming…Two days and counting…

Photos from a walk on the beach at the Indian Ocean in Kenya in 2013. For more photos, please click here.

With my cardiology appointment tomorrow morning, I’m beginning to wonder if it could possibly be canceled due to the upcoming snowstorm kicking off this evening. 


If that’s the case, I will have to reschedule another appointment in Arizona where we’ll be for almost seven weeks. We won’t have enough time while we’re in Nevada for only 12 days with so much to do while there.


Yesterday, I hadn’t fully explained what I’d done as a volunteer at my grandkid’s school. As it turned out Camille wasn’t feeling well and was unable to attend so I went on her behalf on my own. I was there for 2¼ hours serving lunches to approximately half the charter school’s students.


My “job” consisted of assisting staff in counting numbers of fruit cups, bagged vegetables, sandwiches, either peanut butter, and jelly or chicken subs and placing them into easy-access containers. 


Once the kids began to arrive to collect their lunches, I provided them with an open brown bag ready to fill with their choices, also including milk containers, plastic wear, and napkins. Often, it required my assisting them in filling the bags and encouraging them to take the little bag of veggies which many tried to avoid.


The kids appeared at the service area based at pre-set times based on their grade. The older the kids, the more time-consuming it became. The two lovely staff members who worked at my side did most of the heavy lifting which greatly helped.


In most cases, the kids were funny and friendly. But what thrilled me the most was the fact that my three grandchildren, Maisie, Miles, and Madighan (who’d brought lunch from home) each stopped by to give their grandma a big hug. That made the experience all the more special.


Afterward, I headed back to the house to finish the day’s post, wrap a few gifts for the kids to open now (with their main gifts yet to arrive for Christmas), choose some clothing items out of my suitcase to bring to Goodwill, and take tags off casual clothing I’d purchased at TJ Maxx.


My original plan hadn’t been to purchase clothing at TJ Maxx but as it turned out when we stopped to purchase the carry-on suitcase, I found a number of items that work perfectly for me, mostly comfy tops and activewear pants and leggings.


It will be cool in Nevada. When we arrive on Thursday, it will be raining (very unusual) with a high of 52F (11C) with a low of 39F (3.9C) definitely cool weather for the wardrobe I already had in my luggage.


When we arrive at Apache Junction a few weeks from now, the weather will be comparable to Nevada. However, both areas are known for sunny days all winter with a strong possibility of warmer temperatures.


Here’s this morning’s news story about the upcoming weather in Minnesota over the next few days:

“Minnesota Weather: November Snow Storm Could Be Biggest In Decade

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A winter storm warning will go into effect for the Twin Cities area and most of southern and central Minnesota starting Tuesday night in what meteorologists say could be the biggest November snowstorm in nine years.


WCCO’s Chris Shaffer says the warning centers mainly on the southern third of the state, including the entire Twin Cities metro area — which the storm is expected to reach by 10 p.m. Snowfall totals in the metro could reach between 5 and 10 inches.


The snow will not impact either the morning or evening commutes Tuesday, but Wednesday morning will be a very different story. The snow will stack up in the overnight hours, but the massive system will clear out by lunchtime.


Heavy winds will bring the possibility of blowing snow on Minnesota roads Wednesday.


The timing couldn’t be much worse, either. AAA expects the second-highest number of travelers in a decade on Wednesday, with 1.6 million more expected this year than in 2018.


Shaffer said that might not be the end of the snow this week, either. Another winter storm could develop after Thanksgiving into the weekend, but that storm could bring snow, rain, or a mix. Thanksgiving’s highs will hover just around the freezing mark.


A Minnesota Department of Transportation spokesman said the agency has more than 800 snowplows ready to go, with plenty of salt on hand as well.”


Tonight we’re going out to dinner with Greg, Camille, and the three grandchildren. Hopefully, the snow situation isn’t so awful that none of us can safely make it. We’ll have to play it by ear.


Today at 12:30 pm, I am picking up my friend Chere at her house and we’re driving to the Twin Cities Premium Outlet, located in Eagan, about a 35-minute drive. There’s a Tommy Hilfiger store there where I’ll purchase clothes for Tom. We’ve found the quality of this brand to last the longest over many other brands.


We’ll be back tomorrow, most likely after the cardiology appointment, providing the appointment isn’t canceled due to the weather conditions.


Thanks for stopping by.

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Photo from one year ago today, November 26, 2018:

Suckling lion cub as seen from the fence between Marloth Park and Kruger National Park. For more photos, please click here.

A fun win with fun photos…Four days and counting…

Tom won the last game, Bingo Coverall winning $200! Fun! (He looks tired having had
 little sleep while here, mainly due to me coughing all night).

Each day when I sit down on the comfy sofa in the walkout (ground level) lower level of Karen and Rich’s gorgeous home in Eden Praire, I’ve wondered if I would have enough time to get the post completed and uploaded. Today is no different. 


There’s always something to do before the day ends; dinners out and/or activities with family members or friends; visits to various family member’s homes and a plan for dinner if we’re alone.

Rich was served a bloody Mary with a BLT (bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich)
at the end of his straw. That is so USA!

Last night’s plans were dashed last minute when Greg and Camille weren’t feeling well. Instead, we stayed in, munching on various snacks we had on hand, still full from yesterday’s big lunch event at Lucky 13 Pub where we had a great time with Karen and Rich.


They’d suggested we take a break from our busy status to join them in this popular pub where bingo is played for three hours every Saturday from noon to 3:00 pm. We jumped on board and headed out in two cars when we had some shopping to do afterward.

Tom’s Rueben sandwich with jumbo onion rings.

It’s easy to spend upwards of $40 combined with two people playing bingo with two cards (each with three games) during each of the 13 rounds. It couldn’t have been more fun! We never gamble and for me, this felt like gambling but I tossed aside my anti-gambling mentality and went with the flow.


Tom was all in, determined to win but the disappointing thing about bingo, it’s entirely a game of chance with no opportunity for strategy or clever play. Little did we know or anticipate either of us would win but in the last game, he won the $200 cash prize as shown in the main photo. What a surprise!

Karen’s huge platter of chicken tacos. Complimentary popcorn was served.

After the lunch and bingo playing ended, we each took off in our respective vehicles while we headed to TJ Maxx to purchase a carry-on bag. Our black duffle bag finally died on this last flight. 


When the old duffle bag’s wheels weren’t very functional and the bag was often heavy with its contents consisting of mostly jeans and heavy clothing, it was time to replace it with an easier to use carry-on bag with sturdy wheels. 

Rich’s burger and fries.

It took us quite a while to find just the right bag but finally after carefully inspecting several bags we found a high-quality London Fog bag that fit the bill. With sturdy wheels and handle, it definitely will be easier to use. 


In the next few days, we’ll be loading up the new bag with the former contents of the duffle bag and begin packing. We’re leaving Minnesota in a mere four days. The time passed quickly but we’re grateful for the quality time we spent with family and friends.

My fresh and delicious Cobb salad with chicken, bacon, avocado, hard-boiled egg, tomato,
onion, and bleu cheese crumbles.

This morning, we drove to Blaine (45 minutes each way) to see Tom’s sister Patty and say goodbye. We have no idea when we’ll see her again, along with everyone else. It was wonderful to spend time with her.


When we returned to Karen’s and Rich’s after visiting Patty, we dropped Tom off while I did a little local shopping: Target (first time there this trip for a few items); and Lakewind’s Food Coop. 

The rules of play for Lucky 13 Bingo in Bloomington, only available from 12:00 to 3:00 pm on Saturdays at this festive pub and restaurant, plus the dabbers which were provided at no cost. Each three-game sheet was $1. Overall, we spent about $50 to win the $200.

My friend Chere, a highly experienced nutritionist and motivational speaker introduced me to Simply Snakin’ seasoned chicken and/or beef sticks. Made with grass-fed and free-range meats, this low carb, sugar-free, chemical-free 60 calorie meat sticks are the perfect pick-me-up snack. They may be purchased at Lakewinds in this area or at Amazon online at this link.


Back at the house after shopping, I got to work on today’s post but took out 30 minutes to speak to my old friend Lisa on the phone with whom I’ve been friends for over 30 years. It was such a treat getting to hear her voice. 

The brightly lit, typical bar/restaurant was set for the bingo enthusiastic, eat and play.

There are many other friends we’d have loved to see and spoken to, but the time here has just been too short. Also, I believe my pre-occupation with recovering from this dreadful virus and cough has put a damper on many activities including spending time at my son Greg’s house. I am grossly allergic to cats and wasn’t able to spend the amount to time at their home that I’d have loved.


Tomorrow, I’ll spend the better part of the day with DIL Camille. There’s a project at the kid’s school in which I plan to participate. Then, some shopping for grandkid’s Christmas gifts. It will be another busy day. Tom will finally have a day to relax and catch up while I am away.


We’ll be back tomorrow, most likely later than usual since I’ll be leaving early in the morning and won’t be able to work on the post until later in the day.


Have a superb evening!

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Photo from one year ago today, November 24, 2018:

Mom was very easy going and loving with each of her piglets, even when they ate pellets intended for her. For more photos, please click here.

I did it again!…I forgot to take photos…

Lovely drive into the Kahili Golf Course in Maui from our post on this date in 2014, found here.

The photo-taking situation hasn’t been good while we’ve been in Minnesota. The only way I can explain this is the fact that we’ve been so distracted by the interactions with family and friends, we’ve simply forgotten to take photos. 


Once we’re on the move again and feel as if we’re “traveling” again we’ll surely kick the photo-taking back into gear. During this time in the US, it doesn’t feel as if we’re traveling even if we will be moving on to other states over the next 67 days until we leave the US once again.


Several times, we’ve been asked when we expect to return to the US. At this point, we have no idea. With my looming cardiology appointment, we’re a bit tentative to book far into the future.


Providing I get a good result from the appointment, we’ll feel more at ease in booking plans for the future. We’ll just have to see how it goes this upcoming Wednesday.


Last night, was another fabulously entertaining evening. We met with Marie and Bill (friends/readers) for dinner at Redstone Restaurant and had a delightful time catching up. Of course, they didn’t need much catching up from us. 


They’d been reading our posts from the beginning and have been totally apprised of everything that’s transpired over these past seven years. It was fun hearing how much they knew about us, our travels and of course, our trials and tribulations. It was wonderful hearing about their lives. They are a lovely couple and we hope to see them again next time we come to Minnesota.


As we mentioned in yesterday’s post here, by coincidence, Karen and Rich had plans to also meet a couple at the same Redstone location for dinner. After dinner, Marie and Bill had to head out for an early morning road trip to attend a funeral out of town. Karen had stopped by to welcome us to join their group at their table when we were available.


Well, of course, again, we had a fantastic time, chatting, laughing and sharing stories as a group of six. Tom and I each ordered another beverage and settled in for a few more hours of good times.


We didn’t get to bed until after 1:00 am. Fortunately, we both slept well, albeit with my less frequent coughing (improving a little each day) awakening at around 8:00 am.


This morning, we’re going to lunch with Karen and Rich at a pub in Bloomington where guests can play bingo while dining. We’ll be leaving here soon to get cash from an ATM and off we go to “Lucky 13.” 


They both raved about how fun this establishment is and wanted to share the experience with us. We could hardly turn down another opportunity for a good time.


After we’re done there about 3:00 PM, we do a little shopping and then meet Greg, Camille and the three kids at Pinstripes in Edina for dinner and bowling. I made reservations as is often required for any events in busy Minneapolis and it’s suburbs. We’re meeting at 5:00 pm for dinner and the bowling begins after dining. 


I doubt I’ll be able to bowl at this point but it will be fun to watch them all enjoy playfully competing with one another. Most likely, we’ll be back at the house around 10:00 pm and perhaps have an early night tonight.


It’s amazing how well we both are holding out with the constant activity. Neither of us feels exhausted or overwhelmed. We’re simply rolling with the punches and the high level of activity.


We don’t have big plans tomorrow other than to visit Tom’s sister Patty to say goodbye. She won’t be coming to Arizona this winter and this will be the last time we’ll see her until we leave on Thursday.


It’s hard to believe we are leaving for Nevada in a mere five days.


Please stay in touch for more as we wind down our time in Minnesota.


Have a fabulous weekend wherever you may be.

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Photo from one year ago today, November 23, 2018:

We call this pair of wildebeest, Dad & Son.  They aren’t frequent visitors like Wildebeest Willie but always welcome as are the zebras and warthogs. For more photos, please click here.

Another action packed day…

Photo from today’s date in 2014 when we stopped along the highway in Maui for a breathtaking view. For more photos from this date, please click here.

With only six days remaining until we leave here the time is going quickly. We’re still trying to get in as much as we can with our family and friends.

Yesterday was a busy day when I visited my friend Chere at her home in Eden prairie after she’d had glaucoma surgery the prior day. It was good and I’m hoping to have an opportunity to see her again prior to leaving Minnesota next Thursday.


After meeting with Chere I returned to the house to work on the day’s post while Tom put together all the documents we’d need for applying for the second passport this morning.

In the late afternoon, we drove to a restaurant near daughter Tammy’s work to say goodbye. Today, she and her family left for Washington DC and Pennsylvania for their Thanksgiving holiday.

As always, it was hard to say goodbye but Tom is grateful for the quality time they spent together. Unfortunately, I only had an opportunity to see them a few times and enjoyed every moment.

We remained busy all afternoon with necessary piles of paperwork and later joined Karen and Rich for happy hour and leftovers from the previous night’s dinner at Gianni’s.


As always the evening passed quickly as we were all engaged in lively conversation and endless laughter, finally heading off to bed close to 11:00 pm.
This morning we returned the rental car to the airport. DIL Camille offered her minivan for the remainder of our time in Minnesota. We so appreciate this.


After dropping off the car, I picked up Tom in the rental car ramp. Using Whatsapp on our phones, we were easily able to locate each other in the complicated ramp. With plenty of time until our 11:40 am appointment we decided to stop at Perkins on the way back from the airport for breakfast.


We arrived at the passport application appointment at the government service center in Chanhassen earlier than expected. Although the place was packed we were called within 10 or 15 minutes based on the fact we had pre-booked an appointment.


Tom had done such a thorough job of putting all the paperwork in order we breezed through the appointment in no time at all, confident all should go well.


There was a showing on Karen’s house today between 12:00 and 1:00 pm. We tidied up and hid away all of our belongings before we’d left this morning leaving not a single bit of evidence of our stay.


When the passport appointment ended earlier than we’d expected we decided to head to visit Tom’s brother Jerome in Coon Rapids which is almost an hour’s drive away. It was still too early to return to the house due to the showing so we took advantage of the extra hour to visit Jerome.


It was wonderful visiting with him as we’d done over two years ago when we came to the US for a family visit. Jerry is totally blind and uses the narrator on his computer to read our daily posts which Tom sends to him each day after removing the photos. It’s been such a joy to share our lives with him and…he with us.


Tonight at 5:30 pm. we’re meeting long-time friends/readers, Marie and Bill, for dinner at Redstone restaurant in Eden Prairie. Coincidentally, Karen and Rich are also going to Redstone tonight for dinner with other friends. I’m sure we’ll all have a drink together and then go off to our respective tables to have our dinner with our other friends. Small world.


Tomorrow’s another busy day but we’ll report back on that in the next post with hopefully some new photos to share.

May each and everyone of you have a fantastic weekend.


We’ll be back with you soon!

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Photo from one year ago today, November 22, 2018:

Tusker’s left ear was severely injured a few months ago but it has continued to heal although he can no longer “perk it up.”  Here he is at night, lying down at the edge of the veranda relaxing after eating quite a few pellets.  He’s a gentle little soul for having such giant tusks. For more details, please click here.

Oh, my…what a night we had!…

Our hosts and dear friends Karen and Rich.

Today’s another busy day as we prepare for our upcoming four-year passport appointment tomorrow at the local government service center at 11:40 am. We had piles of forms and paperwork to prepare and accumulate for the upcoming appointment.


Also, I needed to make copies of all the medical documents from my heart surgery in preparation for my upcoming cardiology appointment next Wednesday, November 27th.
The two of us at dinner last night.

Subsequently, it made sense to place everything on a flash drive to take to an OfficeMax store for printing. With so many forms, it took me almost an hour to get everything printed at the store resulting in a stack of about 80 pages.


Before heading to the OfficeMax store, at 10:00 am I visited my dear long-time friend Chere at her home in Eden Prairie, only a few miles from Karen’s home. We chatted in her cozy living room sipping on organic caffeine-free tea as Chere and I had often done over the years, anxious to take advantage of every moment as time is running out until we leave Minnesota a week from today.
The four of us were ready for dinner at the fabulous Gianni’s Steakhouse in Wayzata Minnesota.

After leaving her home I headed to the Office Max store and then stopped to purchase a few “unwiches” (breadless healthy sub sandwiches like we often make in our travels).


Tom has some leftovers from last night’s big dinner at Gianni’s Steakhouse but may need to supplement it with at least a part of an “unwich.” Since I wasn’t able to have bread or potatoes, I completely finished my salad and scallops and thus purchased an “unwich” for tonight’s dinner.

Tom was thrilled to dig into these rolls and garlic toasts.

We’re at a point where we don’t feel like rushing off to a restaurant every night but rather save those meals to enjoy with family and friends. At this point, selecting some healthy “to go” dinner options fit the bill for us. 


A few nights ago we had Chinese food (I had steamed prawns and vegetables) and then the next night I had the Chipotle chicken bowl; double grilled chicken, lettuce, tomato salsa, cheese, and guacamole while Tom had Chinese leftovers. The abundance of food offerings here in the US is quite a treat for us.
Our efficient and friendly waiter prepared our choose-your-ingredients-salad tableside. Absolutely delicious!

Last night’s dinner at Gianni’s Steakhouse in Wayzata was the pièce de résistance when it comes to dining. We insisted on taking Karen and Rich out to dinner at this memorable restaurant where many years ago Tom and I dined on special occasions.


It was as spectacular as we remembered. Every morsel, every bit of service, the presentation, the options, and the ambiance was over-the-top. We feared the food and service may have declined over the past seven years but we were delightfully wrong. It was as wonderful as we remembered.
Karen and I each ordered the scallops with pureed butternut in a delicious gluten-free buttery sauce.

Adding to the food and ambiance of the celebratory evening was being with Karen and Rich with whom we made an even greater bond than we’d expected. I’ve been friends with Karen for many years but only now met her love and partner Rich. 


He and Tom have hit it off famously and I haven’t fallen far behind. Our evenings together, after family events have ended for the day, have been exceptionally enjoyable as we’ve mentioned several times over the past few days.
Both Rich and Tom ordered the grilled “double” pork chops with baked garlic and creamed corn.

With one week remaining until we depart for Nevada, we’ll continue to make the most of each day with our family and friends. This has been a great visit, one we’ll always treasure.

These hashbrown potatoes, a signature dish at Gianni’s Steakhouse are filled with cheese and sour cream.

Next, we’re off to see daughter Tammy in order to say goodbye. Tomorrow, their family leaves for Washington, DC for a holiday and then spending Thanksgiving with Tracy’s family in Pennsylvania.


Please check back for more as we continue on over the next several days.  Finally, I am on the mend from this dreadful cough and virus, looking forward to feeling totally well once again.

Take care, dear readers.
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Photo from one year ago today, November 21, 2018:

We drove past friends Kathy and Don’s home yesterday and their front garden was filled with kudus and impalas. Click here for more photos.

Busy days, busy nights…Life in the USA…

 

My cioppino (fish stew) at Stella’s Fish House was delicious.

Our days and nights couldn’t be busier consisting of one event after another. Today, my dear daughter-in-law Camille and I shopped at Cub Foods, Target and the dollar store in preparation for making a fabulous rocky road bar recipe (from my baking days, long past).


The goal was to make as many as we could with the ingredients we purchased for an upcoming bake sale event at the three grandchildren’s charter school in Edina which we visited on Monday for a special Veteran’s Day celebration.


Maisie, our granddaughter is on the school council and each of the council members planned to participate in the bake sale.  Maisie was excited Grandma was here to help bake something special for the event occurring on Thursday evening. I was “all-in” of course, never wanting to disappoint our precious grandchildren.


Camille and I shopped this morning and my eyes were like saucers at the abundance of “stuff” on sale in the three stores we visited, particularly Cub Foods, a massive supermarket, containing literally everything a person could dream of buying at a grocery store. I was on information overload.


It had been over two years since we’ve visited the US and as expected, walking into a spacious store of any type makes our heads spin in sheer delight over the vast options, more than we’d ever imagined.


Back at hers and Greg’s homes, we hustled to get the bar’s ingredients mixed together to get them into the oven before Tom planned to pick me up by 5:00 pm.


We told our kids and our thoughtful host not to worry about meals for us. We’d figure them out on our own. Plus, I didn’t feel up to standing in the kitchen cooking big meals for hours since in any case, it’s in my nature to help out.


But, busy all of these hours made me realize I still wasn’t quite “up to snuff” and didn’t possess the stamina and strength to perform lots of tasks to help anyone out with their day-to-day lives.


This was the first time in nine months I’ve had busy full days and I could easily feel the strain on my still recovering body. I’d overestimated what I was capable of doing and in my typical style I jumped in with both feet pushing myself as hard as I can with some consequence.


Going forward, I will take it a little easier, reducing what I expect of myself to a more manageable level. No one in our family is expecting me to push myself. It’s all on me.


Tomorrow will be a little more low key. Tom and I will hang around at Karen’s home during the day while we work on our visas, two-year passports, and logging receipts. In the afternoon, we’ll head back to Camille and Greg’s home so I can cut up the bars and arrange them in the pretty containers we purchased to use to sell the bars at the bake sale. 

Afterward, we’ll take the three kids out to dinner at their favorite local restaurant, Bunny’s, returning them home after dinner.

My sister Julie has flown back to Los Angeles. It was wonderful to see her and in the next month, I’ll see my other sister Susan in Las Vegas, Nevada along with son Richard in Henderson. Busy times. Good times. Memorable times.


Back at you soon!

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Photo from one year ago today, November 12, 2018:
The convoluted photo is difficult to decipher at first.  Note the one kudu attempting to eat the seeds in the birdfeeder which she eventually accomplished. For more photos, please click here.

Fun times dining with family…Cold, cold, cold…Veteran’s Day event…

Out to dinner at Stella’s Fish House, charming granddaughter Maisie sat next to me.

Introspective grandson Miles wasn’t interested in fish and had a burger instead.

Always-smiling Madighan was loving being with her family and eating seafood along with a taste of Grandpa’s barbeque ribs (who like Miles, didn’t eat fish). 

We knew it would be cold in Minnesota, even as early as November but we had no idea it would be as cold as it has been today. As of this moment, close to 2:00 pm, the temperature is 15F, -9.44C.  That’s cold. 


Considering today’s windchill is bitter cold -1F, -18C, walking outside downright uncomfortable. For the locals this is normal. We remember living here seven years ago.

This bitter cold weather takes our breath away with a cold grasp that sucks our lungs dry. Yesterday, a light covering of snow fell which melted a short time later. Upcoming on Wednesday, the snowfall could be substantial enough to cause congestion and accidents on the roads. I’ve yet to drive a car.


I wasn’t a good driver in the best of conditions and I doubt I’d be any good in this slippery weather. We’re doing everything we can to avoid the necessity of me driving either the rental car or the SUV offered by Greg and Camille (son and DIL). 


We’ll see how that goes since it seems we’re always on the move and often finding we need to split up on several occasions to spend time with our respective families. That’s how it goes with “blended families.” Very few situations allow for the two separate families getting together.


Our grandchildren are delightful and the parents happy to see us at long last. We feel bad about being away for so long but my health issues of this past year kept us away for an additional seven months, over and above the time we’d originally planned to be here.


The price we paid for the unavoidable delay has been being in this cold weather which will only worsen during our remaining time here, depending upon when we decide to leave Minnesota to head to Nevada to see son Richard in Henderson and sister Susan in North Las Vegas.


How’s it going here? Very well. It’s wonderful to spend time with the family and look forward to plans together over the next few weeks. Thus far, we’ve been extremely busy, more than we ever have while traveling since my surgery in February.


I’m working hard to keep up with everyone and all the planned events. Previously, we had many more hours a day to lounge and lay low.  Now, its a fairly consistent level of activity and I’m striving to stay in tune with everyone else.


At night, after a long day and evening, we wind up back at Karen’s gorgeous home to relax and spend more time catching up. Over these years, Karen and I have stayed in fairly close touch and now our conversations are similar to those wonderful chats we had together, day after day, for many years. 


Tom and Karen’s significant other, Rich, get along well. Late last night, they watched the winning Minnesota Vikings game while I wandered off to bed for much-needed rest. It’s all going quite well.


This morning at Maisie, Miles and Madighan’s charter school, Agamim Academy, a school devoted to educating eager students about US history, the Constitution, and the American way, we attended a beautiful presentation for Veteran’s Day commemorating many veterans in attendance and recognition of service provided by our armed forces.


It couldn’t have been a more inspiring presentation. Seeing the smiling faces of our three grandchildren and all the other almost 400 students, so proud of their school and country, was inspiring in itself.


At the moment, we’re back at Karen’s working on today’s post and reviewing the prep necessary to apply for our visas for India which we’ll need in a little over 60 days. 


That is quite an undertaking as we heard it would be. We’ll be using the services of a visa company to assist. Also, we’re applying for additional passports…for two years. Our current passports don’t expire until 2021. We’ll explain more about this later.


Tonight, Tom has plans with grandson Vincent and daughter Tammy while I am going back to Greg and Camille’s home to spend the evening with sister Julie (she leaves tomorrow to return to LA), Camille and the kids while Greg is out on business.


We are happy to be here with family and will muster our way through the bitter cold weather and the busy family activities.


Happy day!

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Photo from one year ago today, November 11, 2018:
“Little” came back for more pellets on the veranda.  He feels quite at home here.  Who knew pigs climb stairs? For more details, please click here.

A fantastic day with friends…A castle..A memorable meal…

Us and Linda and Ken having a few drinks at the Boat Inn in Chepstow.

Fascinating Fact of the Day About Shirenewton, Chepstow, Monmouthshire, Wales:

From this site:
“After the Norman conquest of England, Chepstow was a key location. It was at the lowest bridging point of the River Wye, provided a base from which to advance Norman control into south Wales, and controlled river access to Hereford and the Marches. Chepstow Castle was founded by William Fitz Osborn, 1st Earl of Hereford, in 1067, and it’s Great Tower, often cited as the oldest surviving stone fortification in Britain dates from that time or shortly afterward. Its site, with sheer cliffs on one side and a natural valley on the other, afforded an excellent defensive location. A Benedictine priory, now St Mary’s Church, was also established nearby. This was the centre of a small religious community, the remains of which are buried under the adjoining car park. Monks, originally from Cormeilles Abbey in Normandy, were there until the Dissolution of the Monasteries.”

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With little time this morning to spend on presenting facts and photos about our outstanding experience at the Chepstow Castle, which we’ll share in a few upcoming posts starting tomorrow, today we’re posting photos from our memorable lunch with Linda and Ken.

We stopped at a cafe for tea located next to Chepstow Castle.  We loved the colorful tea timer!

As it turns out, based on their schedule we’ll only have one more day to spend together and we’re all making the most of it.  Our friendship with Linda and Ken began in 2013 when we met them through Kathy and Don when we spent our first three months in Marloth Park and continued as we stayed in touch over the years. 

We walked along the River Wye to the Boat Inn for lunch.

While living in Marloth Park for 15 months beginning in February 2018 and ending in May 2019, we had many opportunities to socialize with them including a week they spent staying with us at The Orange House where we lived during that extended period.


They, along with Kathy and Don and many other friends became a part of our social circle with everyone being loving and supportive during and after my recent open-heart surgery.  

We stopped to check out the various relics.

With no family around these friendships meant the world to both of us.  Now, healed and ready for action, we met aChepstow Castle at Chepstow, Monmouthshire, Wales is the oldest surviving post-Roman stone fortification in Britain for a rewarding experience in a castle.

Ken ordered the fresh trout which he enjoyed.

Over the years of our world travel, we’d seen many castles but none impressed us more than Chepstow Castle.  We can’t wait to share the photos and stories of this stunning piece of history.


But, today, it takes less time to present our dining experience after our visit to the castle than it will when we begin sharing castle details tomorrow.  However, in no way do we want to minimize the significance of this exceptional dining experience so conveniently located a short walk from the castle.

Both Linda and Tom ordered the Guinness Beef Pie.  They both loved this dish with bread and veggies on the side.

To be able to spend time with friends after such a long period of our own, was refreshing.  The last time we had an opportunity was when we were in Ireland between May and August when friend Lisa and Barry came to Connemara to spend time with us.

Two plates of steamed vegetables were placed on the table.

The walk through the castle was outstanding but when we had an opportunity to sit down for tea in a charming coffee shop and later for lunch at The Boat Inn, the day proved to be rich and fulfilling.

This was the largest and most delicious plate of mussels I’ve ever had.  The sauce was made with butter, lemon and cream without flour.  I’d like to return to the Boat Inn one more time before we depart to order this again.

Here’s information on the historic Boat Inn: 
From this site:
The Boat Inn, The Back, Chepstow
“An inscribed date in this building suggests that it was erected in 1789. The original character has survived in many of the interior features, such as the low ceiling and stone flags on the floor. At one time the inn was known as the Chepstow Boat. From around the Second World War to the 1980s the building was a private home. Inquests were held in the building in the 19th century, often into the deaths of people recovered from the river. See the Footnotes below for the names of previous Boat Inn licensees.

The inn was built alongside a dry dock, where ships’ hulls were repaired until the mid-19th century. This waterfront area is known as The Back, an old word for quay or wharf. Previously it was known as “Hell’s acre” because of the rowdiness and fights were common when sailors hit the bottle in the dozen or so pubs in the area.

In 1880, four men who held “respectable positions” in local society, were tried for hauling a fishmonger called Thomas Scott from the Boat Inn and throwing him into the river on the evening of the Chepstow boat races. The defendants said Scott had reneged on a bet. They were fined 30s each, plus costs, and told they were lucky not to be on trial for manslaughter.

The area was once the hub of Chepstow’s maritime activity. There were two slipways, and officers kept watch from a Custom House to ensure the correct duties were paid on incoming goods. Timber was one of the main commodities which passed through. Tourists boarded pleasure boats here for trips on the river Wye, and in 1840 Chartists who took part in the Newport uprising of 1839 departed from here after being sentenced to transportation to Australia. Light industries thrived in the vicinity, including a blacksmith’s forge, a sawmill and a bobbin factory.

One area of the Boat Inn, in the section to the right of the entrance, is said to be haunted. A notice painted on the wall advises customers: “While sitting here you [may] experience a sudden shiver or catch a fleeting glimpse of a figure from times past.”

After lunch, we chatted by the fireplace in this relaxing area of the restaurant.


It’s almost time for us to get on the road to drive to yet another castle where we’ll meet up with Linda and Ken to tour the Raglan Castle and later, once again, find a restaurant where hopefully we’ll have as good a meal as yesterday and no doubt, another great opportunity to chat with these dear friends.


We’ll be back tomorrow with more.  May your day be fulfilling and meaningful!

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Photo from one year ago today, October 16, 2018:

The continuation of photos of the “Ridiculous Nine” we’d seen while on safari in Kruger National Park with friends from the US, Tom and Lois. “Black-backed jackals are closely related, both genetically and physically, to side-striped jackals. They are leanly built and quite hard to spot in the wilderness as they swiftly move through the terrain into areas of thicker vegetation, with their long, bushy tails bouncing behind them. They are a ginger color below the middle of their sides and their shoulders, and a mixture of black and grey above this line on their backs (the origin of their name). They are generally smaller than they appear in photographs and weigh only 6 to13 kg (13 to 29 lb), the same approximate size as most species of dwarf antelope.”  For more details, please click here.

Our friends have left Connemara…A challenge handled…Tom’s stunning photos.

Rainbow view #1 from our window.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”
The country has had a high birthrate for the last 50 years, and because of that,
Ireland has one of the youngest populations in the world.”

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Lisa, Barry, and Chuck spent the day and evening with us.  With my left leg and foot very swollen from sitting too much over the past few days, I’d decided to stay behind while they drove to Clifden for lunch in a pub/restaurant.


It was the first time in a long time I was alone for several hours.  The time went quickly while I sat with my feet up, made a salad for dinner and even managed to take a nap after a fitful prior night’s sleep.

Rainbow view #2 from our window.

Before too long, Lisa called to let me know they were on their way.  The plan was to play a fantastic card game, Five Crowns, we’d played with them while on the cruise on which we met.


But, once we all sat down together in the living room to catch up on the day, we never got to the card game until 1900 hours, 7:00 pm.  Since the three of them had a late lunch in Clifden, they were in no hurry to eat.  For me, it didn’t matter.

Rainbow view #3 from our window.

Tom had purchase three roasted chickens for the meal to keep the work minimal for me. He cooked a big pot of rice as a side.   Later, when we finally dined at 2100 hours, 9:00 pm, all I had to do was butter the buns and grill them in a pan on the stove, heat the chicken in the microwave and cook the broccoli.  


In less than 15 minutes, we were ready to eat, hoping to get back to the game after dinner.  We all sat at the dining table and everyone went back for seconds.  It was an easy meal, perhaps not as exciting as meals we’d made for guests in the past but it was ideal for us to make at this point in my recovery.

Tom wasn’t quite sure what this animal was at first sight until she/he turned around.

After dinner at almost 2200 hours, 10:00 pm, we continued playing the card game.  Something was amiss with my bad left leg and foot.  I took off my sock to discover my ankle, foot and toes were grossly swollen.  The efforts I made all day was of little consequence in reducing the swelling.

Also, there was a lot of moisture on the compression sock.  I knew I couldn’t sit comfortably and play cards, plus it was getting late and our guests needed to head back to their hotel in Carna on the winding roads, riskier than usual on a Friday night.  It was nearly 2300 hours, 11:00 pm, and it was still light outside.

This morning, Tom took these photos through the glass of the kitchen window to avoid scaring off the hare.

After warm hugs and heartfelt goodbyes, they left.  It had been a fantastic two days.  We plan to meet up in the near future.  With Barry an airline pilot, they travel a lot and can easily meet us anywhere in the world.  We’re all looking forward to seeing one another again.


Tom and I cleaned up the glasses (Tom had done the dishes earlier) and we headed upstairs to remove the compression socks and bandages to see how the wound was doing.  Much to our surprise, it actually looked a little better than the previous day.  He did the usual every other day treatment and we called it a night.

Cute hare in the garden.


This morning, the swelling was reduced by 50%.  Today, I’ll do the walking but avoid sitting with my feet on the floor or spend any time standing.  Tonight, we’ll have leftovers and spend a quiet Saturday evening, perhaps watching a movie.  Again, it’s raining off and on and cool and windy.  


This morning the temperature was 8.33C, 47F, but with the winds, it’s not appealing to go out sightseeing nor does it make sense to be sitting in the car with my feet on the floor for a few hours.  


And so it goes, the recovery continues, albeit not at a pace we’d like to see but it’s moving forward none the less. However, we’re cheerful, grateful for the fun two days we had with our wonderful friends and look forward to another good day in Connemara, Ireland.


May you have a great day!

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Photo from one year ago today, June 8, 2018:

A leisurely drive in Marloth Park resulted in spotting these giraffes.  For more photos, please click here.