My first night ever…alone in the bush…

Norman is getting fluffed up with a male kudu and male zebras near him. Females of any species don’t bother him at all. He’ll even share food with them.

Today’s weather is pure hell. The temperature is only 84F, 29C, but the humidity is 73%, and the dew point is 75. It would be more tolerable if it were raining, but no rain is predicted throughout the day. I’ve had a busy morning, doing all the household tasks. Tom usually does it in the mornings, along with my own.

I started a few loads of laundry but set up the laundry rack indoors in the lounge room. There’s no sun, and it won’t dry any faster outdoors than inside the house. The clothes may take three days to dry in this weather. But there isn’t anything there I can’t go without, and besides, half of the laundry was Tom’s clothes.

Zebras were in a scuffle over pellets, a common occurrence.

Usually, in the mornings. while I make breakfast, Tom plays the most recent podcast episode of Garage Logic, where his name and our web address are mentioned daily at the end of each podcast. It’s always fun to listen to this enjoyable show. After breakfast, Tom does the dishes while I begin the post.

It’s a lovely routine we both enjoy, but with him gone until March 15, we’ll wait and get caught up on the missed podcasts when he returns. It may seem odd that I can listen to a show while doing the posts, but I’ve found that over the years, it works well for me.

Zebras were looking for pellets.

This morning as I am typing here now, I have a split screen on my laptop, and I’m watching the TV series “Naked and Afraid.” I stop periodically to watch a particular scene in the show, but then again, I often stop watching and pay more attention to the post’s preparation.

Also, this morning, I made a double batch of keto coconut flaxseed bread from mixes I purchased in the health food section at Spar. It has no “bad” ingredients, and it is extremely low-carb.

I have two small slices every morning topped with eggs, avocado, or smoked salmon. I cut two thin slices of the small bread and place them into snack-sized ziplock bags (which I save and reuse many times), putting them into the freezer. I take out one packet at night, but if I forget to take it out, after 30 seconds in the microwave, it will defrost. This big batch will last a month.

There was my boy Norman looking for me early this morning. It was busy in the garden, so it took him a few minutes to mosey on over to his favorite spot.

This keto bread is dense and somewhat dry, so I add a little keto barbecue sauce to the bread to moisten it. Then, I pop both slices into the toaster until lightly browned. Butter, cream cheese, or other sugar-free sauces may be added. I use the sugar-free keto barbecue sauce since it has the lowest calories (and carbs), and calories count on low carb, especially when trying to lose a few kilos.

Below is a photo of the larger two loaves I made this morning. I let them cool for a few hours, making cutting them into thin slices easier. I always keep the food I am cooling covered with kitchen towels to prevent flies and insects from crawling on them. It’s always best to freeze baked goods here due to the high humidity presenting a likelihood of mildew growing very quickly.4

Keto Coconut & Flaxseed bread doesn’t look appetizing, and it’s an acquired taste. I like it.

It’s been almost 14 hours with two more to go since Tom’s flight took off from Cape Town Airport. I should hear from him shortly while he begins another long layover. He’ll have to go through immigration and customs when he arrives at Dulles Airport in Washington, DC. The lines will be long, and it could take him an hour or more to get through. It will be good to hear from him again as he makes his way on this long journey to Minneapolis, Minnesota.

In my old life, before I met Tom when my kids were grown, I spent many years living alone without an alarm system. I did OK alone overnight in the bush. I had the fan and the aircon on in the bedroom, so I didn’t hear every little sound and never felt frightened or worried. The alarm was set, and I kept the keyfob with the panic buttom under my pillow in case I heard anything unusual. But all was fine.

Oops, I had to stop when Norman showed up. I cut him some celery tops, lettuce, and apples, but suddenly, he was joined by our frequent Big Daddy visitor. I tossed some apples to Norman and in another direction to Big Daddy, and he left Norman to eat his lunch without interruption. Norman always fluffs his hair and tail when encountering male kudus, especially those with big horns like Big Daddies.

Moments later, Hoppie’s Mom and two babies arrived in the garden. They have figured out how to maneuver through the little fence, and we’ve stopped trying to hurry them away since they are here so often.

I just snapped two worms off my shirt after sitting outdoors while Zef washed the floors in the house. Yuck!

Tom’s flight to Dulles Airport in Washington, DC, was running 20 minutes late. According to the flight information online, it arrived 19 minutes ago. I should be hearing from Tom soon. I just got a text! He’s in line for immigration, and we’ll communicate more once he’s at his next gate for the flight to Minneapolis. There’s a four-hour layover and an almost four-hour flight until he arrives at his final destination.

Busy morning in the bush. All is well. I miss my man, but he’ll return before I know it.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, March 6, 2022:

Not our photo. The continuing rise in the cost of food in the UK was one of the key contributors to December’s consumer price inflation of 5.4% © REUTERS (An article from Financial Times, with their link here. For more details, please click here.

Tom is off to the US on Sunday…Our first time apart in 10½ years…

The view from friend’s Karen and Rich’s home one year ago when we stayed with them in Apollo Beach, Florida.

Note: We’ve been preoccupied and haven’t taken any new photos in several days. Today’s images are from Florida, where we were one year ago.

It will feel very strange for Tom and me to be apart for ten days when he leaves for the airport in Nelspruit to start the long journey to the US. On his way there, the flight and layovers will have 31 hours of travel time. On his return on March 13, arriving on March 15, it will be much longer when he has to stay overnight in Joburg at the airport hotel to avoid driving the dangerous N4 highway in the dark.

This will be the first time we have embarked on an international flight without the other. Not only was it imperative for him to be with his family for brother Jerome’s wake and funeral service in Minneapolis, but also to spend precious time with his kids,  grandkids, and siblings. I will feel a lot better when I hear that he has arrived safely and when he walks in the door a week from Wednesday, back with me once again.

Our dear friends Karen and Rich while we were all out to dinner in Florida.

As a blended family, we’re constantly juggling and allocating time between our families when we are together in the US. It has always worked out well, but this time, he won’t have to worry about carting me around, dropping me off, and picking me up after time with my son Greg and his family.

For a minute, we may have considered having me go with him, but the more we thought about it, this made the most sense. Plus, he can sleep at his daughter Tammy’s house, where I’ve never been able to stay since I am allergic to cats. The same is the case with staying at my son Greg’s house, where they have three cats.

When it’s the two of us, we prefer to stay in a hotel, especially when we consume so much WiFi and spend so much time online doing daily posts and other research. Also, as a couple, we prefer privacy and quiet when staying in a hotel when we travel.

View of the bay from Karen and Rich’s home in Apollo Beach.

The only exception to this has been when we stay with our dear friends Karen and Rich in their huge house in Florida. The four of us are so much alike, we don’t annoy one another, and it’s always been easy for a week or more. We all like the same kind of food, and our daily habits are oddly similar. This isn’t always the case with many friends who have generously offered us to stay with them.

Tom just finished packing, considering it’s still freezing in Minnesota. When our bags were lost on our last trip, we bought sweatshirts and flannel shirts to stay warm. He now has three flannel shirts, a few new zippered sweatshirts, and plenty of jeans to keep warm. He isn’t bringing a suit when few men at the service will be wearing suits. But he will wear a newer long-sleeved black shirt and pants to the services.

This morning, we headed to Komatipoort to grocery shop for whatever I’ll need in the next ten days. Mostly, I’ll prepare easy chicken and seafood meals while he’s away, along with a salad. When he returns, I’ll make a special dinner for us to celebrate our missed 28th wedding anniversary, which is on March 7.

Us, out to dinner with Rich and Karen.

These past ten years, we have always made a bigger fuss over our travel anniversary on October 31 each year. Still, we’ve always done something special on our wedding anniversary, often going out to dinner or making a fancy meal wherever we live.

This evening, we’ll return to Jabula, the second night in a row to be with our local friends at this entertaining establishment. Last night, we had an excellent time, reliving the fun we all had at my birthday party last Saturday. It’s hard to believe that it was almost a week ago.

That’s it for today. Next time I write, I will be alone for the first time in so long I can hardly remember; although we were apart at night when I was in hospital in 2019, Tom was with me every day, well into the evening. But this is different. I am not afraid of being alone. I’ll watch for lions when I am outdoors and those disgusting slimy black worms that are still falling on our heads. Yuck.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, March 4, 2022:

Once again, the porcupine returned to the garden at night. For more photos, please click here.

No word on the funeral date yet…Tom’s departure up in the air…What about his pending visa extension…

We spotted this leaf insect on the outdoor refrigerator door. The Phasmida (stick and leaf insects) are plant-eating insects, often resembling sticks or broad leaves. They do not have their hindlegs adapted for jumping as in the closely related order Orthoptera (grasshoppers, katydids, crickets, and relatives). While there are about 3000 species, only about 30 are leaf insects.

Tom is still waiting to hear from his niece when her father and his brother Jerome’s funeral and memorial service will be held in order to book his round-trip flight to the US. He has to time it correctly to ensure he is still in the US on March 9. the expiration date on our current visas.

If he returns after March 9, which he will, he will receive a new 90-day stamp to reenter South Africa will cancel the requirement for his pending visa extension we did with the law firm in Cape Town. Since I am staying behind, the visa extension will continue as planned. At some point, I’ll have to go to Nelspruit to the immigration office to open the “secret” envelope to determine my new visa extension date.

This morning, I wrote to the law firm to explain the situation and ask if there are any issues we need to be aware of before Tom leaves to ensure there are no surprises. I just heard back from the law firm, and he is good to go. He only needs to bring the receipt we received when we submitted the visa extension a few weeks ago. I found his receipt, which he will place in his passport.

Hopefully, the required exit dates will coincide as to when we will be required to leave South Africa. If those dates are different, which we expect, we will leave together on the earliest date. Fortunately, we haven’t had to book a flight out yet and will do so once we know more. We don’t stress about not knowing. We’ve both become used to having travel plans “up in the air.”

Today in the US, Jerome’s family will meet with the funeral director to arrange the service. With the eight-hour time difference, Tom won’t hear anything until later this evening, most likely after we return home from Jabula. Tom still wants to go about our normal lives while he waits to make plans for his departure to the US.

Leaf mimicry often is elaborate among the leaf insects, with the insects’ wings and legs closely imitating leaf color and form. Female elytra typically resemble, in their vein pattern, the midrib and veins in a leaf. Some species are even adorned with markings that resemble spots of disease or damage, including holes. Nymphs may sway side to side as though mimicking the movement of a leaf in the wind. Leaf mimicry is thought to play an important role in defense against predators. Some species possess rows of tubercles on their antennae that, when rubbed together, produce sounds that may also serve to ward off predators.

Once we know and he books the flight, we’ll head to Komati for a few things I’ll need while he’s away. At this point, we don’t know how long he’ll be gone, but most likely, it will be for a week or more. We shopped last Thursday, and although I won’t fuss over meals for myself, I’ll need a few items to last while he’s away and also for the first few dinners after he returns.

I don’t want Tom to have to grocery shop with me as soon as he returns after over 36 hours of travel time. He always recovers quickly after no sleep on the plane, but we’ve rarely felt like embarking on a big shopping trip right after we return from a long travel period.

Am I concerned about being alone in the bush for eight or ten days and nights? The reason bush houses often have a security system using a security company in Marloth Park is due to several break-ins and attacks at times. But this house has a good alarm system connected to a local service, and a security vehicle could be here in about three minutes.

I will keep the house keys with the emergency key fob in the bedroom. If anything worries me, I’d only have to push the red button to immediately alert the security company to head this way. Plus, that button triggers a loud alarm that won’t shut off until disarmed by the alarm company or me.

As for the animals, I have no fear whatsoever. If the lions show up, I’ll go inside the house. The other animals pose no risk as long as I continue to respect their space as we always do.

I won’t have a car while Tom is away, but Louise and Danie will help as needed, and I’m sure friends at Jabula will ensure I have a ride both ways if I decide to go on Friday or Saturday nights if Tom is still; away. If I don’t need to go to the market, which I won’t, otherwise, I won’t need transportation.

In tomorrow’s post, we’ll likely know more and report here accordingly. No words can express the gratitude Tom and I feel over the multitudes of thoughtful condolences expressed by our family, readers/friends on our site and Facebook. Thank you for your thoughtfulness and condolences over losing Tom’s dear brother Jerome.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, March 3, 2022:

Our resident tree frog lives atop this structural post on the veranda. She croaks intermittently during the day but ramps it up at night, communicating with other frogs. For more photos, please click here.