Tom has left for Nelspruit for his medical tests…No results until Friday…

On Sunday, on our way back from the afternoon party, we were fortunate to see these giraffes on Olifant Rd. What a treat to see the young calf! Dad must be the darker, taller giraffe on the left.

Tom left for Nelspruit this morning at 8:45 for his 11:00 am appointments for two medical tests; a chest x-ray (he coughs) and an aortic aneurysm screening (heredity issues with men in his family). I just received a Whatsapp message that he’s arrived safely, and he’ll text me again to let me know when he’s on the way back.

We won’t get the results until Friday when we return to Doc Theo for test results and our two cardiac stress tests. I’ll be glad when all of this medical stuff is completed. Hopefully, we can have peace of mind with positive results. I’m still taking all the allergy meds and the Prednisone. My allergy symptoms are gone, and the head pain is less but not entirely gone.

It’s another cooler and beautiful sunny day. This morning, I baked Tom a double batch of keto blueberry cake, one of the few keto desserts he likes. I had to hurry and get it done since load shedding is starting soon, and I can’t use the oven during that period.

Both pans are done and out of the oven. It smells good here. Now I’ll wait for them to cool so I can cut them into individual servings and place them in ziplock sandwich bags. I wouldn’t say I like using so many plastic bags, so we save the old ones and reuse them for as long as possible. We place the empty used bags in the freezer so the crumbs in the bags don’t spoil, and then take them out for the next batch. We’re able to reuse them four or five times before tossing them.

With the latest holiday season in the works, vehicles blocked our view of the giraffes. We were lucky to get the shots that we did.

Sitting here at the dining room table preparing the post, I am reminded of Tom being in the US only a few weeks ago and how long and tedious that time was without him. I wanted to go with him this morning, but he knows how I dislike the drive to Nelspruit and insisted he’d be fine on his own.

This morning, up and dressed before he left, I said, “I am ready to walk out the door with you right now.” But, he insisted he’d return in no time and for me to stay behind, get today’s post done and enjoy quiet time in the kitchen prepping for tonight’s dinner and baking his blueberry bread.

Now, with all of that done, with the house cleaned after Vusi just left, once I am done here, I’m at a loss as to how to occupy myself without him here. Yesterday, I did all the financial stuff for the first of the month, sent our Nevada accountant a message for tax filing, and feel comfortable that everything is under control.

We use credit cards for everything since we haven’t had or used checks in almost two decades. Instead of saving receipts that the credit card companies have for our purchases. Every few weeks, I enter every purchase into our Excel spreadsheet. I look at the online statements to enter the correct amounts with the exchange rate based on how the banks debit us. We’ve found we pay less in exchange rates using our credit cards than we would by using cash.

The dad was keeping a watchful eye on the traffic.

We only get South African rands for tips and miscellaneous cash transactions, which are few. We tip Zef and Vusi on the same day each month and always keep enough cash to do this. We usually go to the ATM in Komatipoort once a month. Also, Louise arranges for three bags of pellets every few weeks, and we reimburse her almost ZAR (rand) 900, US $49.24 each time for the three bags.

The pellets last longer now than they did in the winter since the bush is lush and green, and the animals don’t need or eat as many pellets at this time. Of course, I’m always giving Norman and his family carrots, apples, and vegetable scraps which they love.

As a matter of fact, Norman has already been here three times this morning, standing in the garden, looking at me. I ask him, “Norman, do you want your lunch?” His ears flip back and forth, and his mouth quivers in sheer delight. There’s no doubt in my mind, after all of these months I have been talking to him, that he knows exactly what I am saying, not unlike a dog would after repeated human language. These animals are more intelligent than most people think.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, March 28, 2022:

Karen and Rich were married on February 11 when Omicron hit, and we stayed behind to avoid infecting the bride and groom. For more photos, please click here.

Less flooding but still raining…No problem out and about…Giraffes in the garden…

It’s always a joy to see giraffes in the garden. This one made eye contact with me when I talked to her,

Whenever giraffes make their way into our garden, our hearts are filled with pure joy, feeling honored they’ve come for a visit. Although we see giraffes while driving on the roads in Marloth and Kruger National Parks, it’s all the more of a thrill to see them in our garden, especially while sitting at the table on the veranda.

What a sight this is when we see them coming our way!

We’ve seen this “tower” of six giraffes in the past, along with many others living in Marloth Park. We were surprised when they stopped by while it was still drizzling, but they didn’t seem to mind a bit and scoured the treetops with the same enthusiasm as usual. Giraffes have no competition for food since no other animals are as tall. However, certain trees can produce toxic-tasting tannins that drive giraffes away, as described here:

“Tannins are the bitter chemical you taste when you’ve left the teabag in for too long. They’re found in many plants, including giraffes’ preferred foodstuffs, such as Acacia trees. Overbrowsing by giraffes activates the trees’ defense mechanism and prompts increased production of these tannins.”

We often wish we could feed them something, but they don’t eat pellets or offerings made by humans in the wild.

Wow! Isn’t nature unique? Trees and plants can’t run away from predators. Instead, many produce a variety of toxins to protect themselves, as described in this interesting article from this site:

“Naturally Occurring Toxins in Vegetables and Fruits

  1. Fresh vegetables and fruits contain nutrients, vitamins, and minerals essential for growth and health and are important components of a healthy diet. However, some vegetables and fruits may contain natural toxins that could harm our health. Now and then, there have been reports of food poisoning cases suspected to have been caused by the consumption of raw vegetables and fruits containing natural toxins.
  2. Natural toxins are poisonous substances present naturally in fruits and vegetables. They are produced by plants to defend themselves against fungi, insects, and predators and offer a protective mechanism for the plant.

For the balance of this article, please click here. For those on specific diets, consideration, and education on this topic may be helpful.

Giraffe heads hidden in the bush while dining on fresh green leaves.

As for the rain, it has decreased in the past 24 hours, although, according to the weather reports, some rain and frequent drizzles are expected over the upcoming week. Fortunately, the river levels have gone down, and life is returning to normal in many areas.

The rain has been significant for the animals providing lush greenery for the voracious appetites.

Last night for the first time in days, we headed out to make our way to Jabula and experienced no difficulty on the paved Olifant Road or on the dirt road to the restaurant. Once inside, load shedding started, but with their generators running, we didn’t notice a thing. We had a friendly and chatty time at the bar, where we stayed to eat our dinner. By 8:00 pm, 2000 hrs., we were out the door and were thrilled to walk into our house, knowing load shedding wouldn’t impact us as it continued off and on over the next several hours.

We streamed the fifth episode of Yellowstone’s 1923 and were disappointed when the episode ended. Yellowstone and its multiple spinoffs are each worthy of watching. We enjoyed every episode of each show and look forward to more of these excellent series in the future.

“75 pounds, 34 kg per day is what It takes to fuel these large mammals. A giraffe will spend most of its day eating. Giraffes only need to drink once every several days because they get most of their water from the luscious plants they eat. Acacia trees host their favorite leaves.”

We both had a good night’s sleep and looked forward to another pleasant day in the bush.

Be well.

Little was having a spa day in the green algae. Photo from one year ago today, February 11, 2022:

“Pig in a pond.” For more photos, please click here.

Safari luck has begun for our guests…

This oxpecker let out a call while standing on a giraffe’s neck.

Yesterday, we had only a few visitors stop by during the day since it was a Sunday and the park was still busy with tourists. As a result, we wanted Connie, Jeff, and Lindsey to see wildlife as soon as possible. We all got into their rented van and drove around Marloth Park to see what we could find.

Much to our delight, the animals didn’t disappoint. Today, we’re sharing some of the photos from that outing. We were glad to know we could all view the wildlife we encountered through the windows in the roomy van. Connie drove while the rest of us searched the bush for more sightings. It was an enjoyable time.

Note the oxpecker on the side of this giraffe’s neck.

Our guests used their phones to take photos, while I used the camera to get the shots we’re sharing today and tomorrow. We’ve found that most first-time visitors to Marloth Park often use their phones for photos but usually bring a camera when they return.

We’d invited Rita and Gerhard to join us for dinner, and we barely got back to the house in time for their arrival. Of course, I had to get busy preparing some starters. I decided to make easy starters and an equally easy dinner. We served peanuts, crackers and cheese, and biltong for the starters.

Giraffes are such attractive animals.

We served filet mignon, baked potatoes with sour cream, white rice, steamed broccolini, and mixed greens salad for dinner.  We didn’t do dessert since no one cared for sweets after dinner. However, on Saturday, I’m going to make a big pan of apple crisp.

Miraculously, I don’t have a headache today, nor is my face hurting. I’ve had periods over the past few days when the pain has  disappeared intermittently. But today, three weeks after I started the medication, the drugs seem to have fully kicked in. How long this pain-free state will last is beyond me, but I am savoring every moment right now.

Three giraffes in a row.

Dinner progressed without incident, and Tom did a great job cooking the steaks on the braai, perfectly cooked to each person’s preference. He did mine and Connie’s rare steaks precisely as we’d like. By the time dinner was over, I was exhausted. I couldn’t do another thing.

Over the past several months while I had the headache, since April 20th, when we tested positive for Covid-19, I’ve spent much time resting each day. However, we continued to entertain guests, go for dinner, and even travel out of the country; I never rebuilt my stamina.

Once I’ve been pain-free for a while, I’ll start walking again, trying to get close to 8000 to 10000 steps per day, and will spend less time sitting as much as I have these past few months. I’m looking forward to feeling more like myself again, active, energized, and full of enthusiasm.

Look at all these oxpeckers on the giraffe’s neck.

A bale of lucerne was delivered today, the first of two we ordered this week. The next one will come on Thursday, and we’ll also repeat this cycle next week while our guests are here. To our surprise, only a few animals have eaten off of the bale so far, two wildebeests and Tulip and Lilac. Hopefully, today more animals will come.

We hope to go into Kruger tomorrow based on how everyone feels and the weather. Rain is predicted this week which wouldn’t be an ideal time to go into the park. As always, we’ll “play it by ear.”

Have a fantastic day!

Photo from one year ago today, September 19, 2021:

One Wart is a frequent visitor. For more photos please click here.

Seven giraffes in the garden!…What a pleasure to behold!…

Yesterday early afternoon, we were gifted with the presence of seven giraffes in the garden. We couldn’t have been more thrilled, holding our breath in awe as we shot as many photos as possible. With their heads in the trees munching on a few sparse trees, it wasn’t easy to get great images of their heads and faces, but we did the best we could.

Photo from the trail cam a few nights ago.

Taking the above video was the highlight of the experience, and we hope you’ll take a moment to view it. I know it can be annoying to watch videos on a website, considering the possibility of advertisers, which we have. Still, you may be pleasantly surprised by what you’ll see on the many videos we’ve posted over the years.

They all stood close at certain points while eating from the treetops.

Often, when giraffes stop by, they don’t stay for long. They fall into the “eat and run” visitor status, but we are always happy to see them regardless of how long they stay. They don’t interact with humans at all here in the park, although there’s enormous interaction with them at a resort in Kenya called Giraffe Manor. I’ve always wanted to visit there, but both times we had booked such events, they were canceled, once by us due to heart surgery and another time due to the pandemic.

There were a total of seven, but they mostly stayed in two groups.

Giraffes are fascinating animals. Here are 14 facts about giraffes you may find to be enjoyable from this site:

14 fascinating facts about giraffes:

  1. There are four distinct species of the giraffe: Northern giraffe Giraffa camelopardalis, Southern giraffe giraffa, Reticulated giraffe G. reticulata and Masai giraffe G. tippelskirchi.
  2. Giraffe are already extinct in at least seven countries in Africa.
  3. Just like human fingerprints, no two giraffe have the same coat pattern.
  4. Giraffe feet are the size of a dinner plate with a diameter of 30 cm.
  5. Giraffe tongues are bluish-purple and between 45 and 50 cm long.
  6. Both male and female giraffe have horns already at birth. These ossicones lie flat and are not attached to the skull to avoid injury at birth. They only fuse with the skull later in life.

    It was exciting watching the giraffes enter the garden.

  7. The giraffe is the tallest mammal in the world. Even newborn giraffe are taller than most humans.
  8. Female giraffe give birth standing up. Their young fall about 2 m to the ground and can stand up within an hour of birth.
  9. In some populations, over 50% of all giraffe calves do not survive their first year.
  10. A giraffe’s neck is too short to reach the ground. To drink, giraffe first have to splay their forelegs and/or bend their knees, and only then can they lower their necks to reach the surface of the water.
  11. Giraffe only drink once every few days. Even when water is readily available, evidence shows that many giraffe do not drink regularly – sometimes not at all.
  12. To protect the giraffe’s brain from sudden changes in blood pressure when it drinks, the jugular veins have incredibly elastic walls and large one-way valves that allow the veins to expand significantly and prevent the blood from flowing back to the brain when the giraffe’s head is lowered.

    We hoped they’d drink from the pool.

  13. Alternatively, to help fight gravity when blood returns to the heart from a giraffe’s feet, their blood vessels are thickly walled and muscled, and the skin on the legs is so tight it acts like giant compression socks. These unique adaptations have been studied by scientists at NASA to get inspiration for human space suits.
  14. A giraffe heart weighs approximately 11 kilograms (almost 25 pounds) with an average resting heart rate of 40-90 beats per minute. While people thought that the giraffe had a larger heart compared to other mammals to pump blood around its body, this is not true. Rather the giraffe’s heart has a thicker muscle on the left side (ventricle) of the heart so it can generate enough force to fight gravity.

More Giraffe Facts

One curious giraffe turned his head and looked at us.

When reading #10 in the above list, it makes sense why giraffes aren’t interested in eating pellets from the ground. I suppose if the pellets were on a high ledge, they’d probably like the pellets since they are herbivores. So far, other than carnivore animals that only eat meat, we’ve yet to see an animal here in the park that doesn’t care for the pellets other than a variety of cats including civets, lions, leopards, genets, lizards, crocs, snakes and mongooses.

Who’d ever imagine sitting on the veranda and seeing giraffes stop by?

Bushbabies are omnivores and eat fruit, nuts, insects, and small rodents occasionally. We’ve never seen a bushbaby eating a pellet. Also, the commonly seen helmeted guinea-fowl love to eat pellets. They usually break them up into small pieces since they are the size of half a human finger, but they will occasionally swallow them whole. Other birds don’t seem to be interested in the pellets.

This could be mom, dad, and baby.

Today will be another warm day with a high of 91F, 33C, with a low of 56F, 13C. As the temperature rises, so does the humidity, which is why it may be unbearably hot here in the summer months and why there are so many mosquitos. We’ve yet to turn on the air-con in the bedroom at night. There are not a lot of insects yet, but as it warms up, there will be insects everywhere. Between the heat, the humidity, the mosquitos, and other insects, many tourists stay away during the summer months.

Heads high in the air.

The sparse trees and bushes make life hard for the wildlife, especially right now, before the rainy season from November until April, when the bush is lush with bright green foliage for the animals to eat. For the next few months, unless we get some rain, the bush will be dry, a fire hazard, and lacking in food for the animals. For this reason, we don’t hesitate to feed the animals pellets, fruit, and vegetables.

This afternoon at 3:00 pm, 1500hrs., we’re heading out to visit friends Sindee and Bruce at their home in Marloth Park. I did a little baking this morning so we could bring them an entire pan of homemade coconut banana bread. We seldom visit anyone’s home empty-handed.

We were sorry to see them leave.

The recipe called for two cups of ripe bananas, but we were left with several ripe bananas. Norman, Nina, and Noah stopped by, and they each ate a few of the bananas. We had enough to share with the four bushbucks in the garden. We couldn’t stop laughing when Jasmine literally peeled her banana with her mouth before eating the insides. We’d seen kudus do this but never a bushbuck. It was the cutest thing.

Now, at noon, the garden is quiet after a busy morning packed with many species. Enjoy our photos from the past 24 hours and our above new video.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, September 4, 2021:

Fred and Ethel lie butt-to-butt in the garden with a helmet guinea-fowl looking on, hoping for more pellets. For more photos, please click here.

Stunning visitors to the garden…Rioting in the streets in Komatipoort…

A mom and a young giraffe stayed close to one another.

This morning, while lingering in bed, knowing there was no rush to get up, I played Scrabble on my phone. I am trying to break my previous winning streak but have some tough competition. I can tell some players use letter-unscrambling apps, but I wing it alone. What’s the point of playing if I don’t exercise my brain?

Reaching for the treetops.

About 7:30, Tom came into the bedroom to tell me to hurry and come outside. There were four giraffes in the garden, close enough for some photos. I had yet to insert my contacts and couldn’t focus the camera very well, so I rushed back inside to take care of it.

We were thrilled we had some tasty trees in the garden.

In less than a minute, I was back outside and ready to take some photos to share here today. We were both thrilled to finally see these massive animals in the garden during the day. We’d see them on the road but not in the garden, except a few times when they appeared on the trail cam at night, too far for good images.

Giraffes don’t eat pellets, but wildebeests do!

The four massive beasts stayed for about 30 minutes, and finally, I could go back inside to shower and dress for the day. Once in the kitchen, I made my coffee, warmed up a homemade blueberry egg muffin, and ventured out to the veranda to enjoy the views of myriad wildlife visiting us on yet another gorgeous day.

We’d planned to go to Kruger today, but now, with riots in Komatipoort, only a few kilometers from where we turn off to go to the Crocodile Bridge entrance, we decided to stay put. A tweet came in this morning with a video of rioting on Rissik Street, where we were yesterday for Tom’s eye doctor appointment, which is the main road in town that takes us to the Spar Market.

Are you perhaps contemplating a drink from the pool?

Not only was there vandalism and carjackings in the town of a population of under 5000, but rocks were being thrown at people and vehicles. No thanks. We will stay as far away as possible, which is right here where we are in Marloth Park. There’s been a lot of rioting in South Africa lately with no results from these activities regarding changes people want to be made.

In this case, supposedly, the residents were rioting over the lack of a high school, the clinic’s hours, and other reasons, none of which will change from this demonstration. Businesses and governments do not respond to rioting, which is prevalent in this country and others, including our own USA.

They wandered about the garden for about 30 minutes and were on their way.

But, for our safety, we’ve chosen to stay in Marloth Park today. We won’t be able to go to the Kruger tomorrow since Tom has a 10:00 am appointment to have his two teeth implants placed on the foundations by Dr. Singh. In the interim, I’ve had a toothache for the past several days and have been trying to reach the dental office for the past three hours to no avail.

Now that we have a local phone number, it is a little more convenient to leave a message than in the past, when most people don’t return a call to a long-distance number like ours on our Google phones. As mentioned in an earlier post, we figured out a solution for Google Fi’s issue with us regularly using data outside the US.


We purchased a local Vodacom SIM card for my old phone with voice and data to use as needed. Sure, I must carry two phones when heading out, but it was the only practical solution for now. Google phones don’t have an extra slot for another SIM card other than the one installed for Google Fi purposes. Thus, the necessity for another phone.

Overall, this phone solution was less expensive than any other we investigated. Although it’s slightly inconvenient having two phones, there are times it comes in handy when I’m using my old phone to stream music in the early evenings while still able to use the newer phone.

Where to next?

As for Tom’s eye doctor appointment yesterday (where the riots are today), he was relieved to know the strings he saw from his eye were “floaters.” I also have the same problem with one of my eyes. In a study, it was reported that 76% of seniors have floaters. So I guess neither of us has to be concerned about this common condition.

That’s it for today, folks. Be well and enjoy your day and evening.

Photo from one year ago today, July 28, 2021:

Tiny seemed happy to see us, although he hesitated for a moment to ensure it was us. He is timid, unlike Little. We are thrilled to see him once again! For more photos, please click here.

Finally, they came to call, eight months later!!!…

When peering out the kitchen window, we saw this image in the front of our house.

Yesterday was quite eventful in our garden. While stopping in the kitchen to refresh his iced tea, Tom said, “Hurry, get the camera! There’s a giraffe in the driveway!”

We hadn’t seen a giraffe in the driveway since we arrived in Marloth Park in January when we moved into this holiday home. Six or seven giraffes were at the end of the driveway on the road, and we took several photos, hoping at some point they’d come to our garden for a visit. Now, eight months later, they finally came to call.

Not only were they in the driveway, but they were standing close to the house. The tricky part was taking photos since giraffes don’t interact with humans for food, like the other wildlife. They eat the leaves at the top of trees and don’t bend down for pellets or other food offerings from humans.

There were a total of three giraffes, two that stayed in the bush and the one that dared to get close to the house for the tree he found worthy of the risk.

Subsequently, they are as shy here in Marloth Park as they are in Kruger National Park. They tolerate cars passing but don’t care to interact with humans on foot. When we opened the front door, I could barely get a quick photo when they thundered off, kicking up dust on our dirt driveway.

We decided to leave the front door open since it makes noise upon opening and be patient and wait. They were obviously after the lush green vegetation at the top of a tree close to the kitchen window. We waited patiently. Although we couldn’t get good photos based on their hesitancy around us, we managed to get the few we’re sharing here today.

After all, being within three or four meters of the giant animals is exciting in itself. Where in the world is that possible in the wild? Where in the world is that possible, close to your front door? Nowhere that we know, other than Marloth Park or another game reserve in Africa.

It’s hard to believe we can be so close to these majestic animals.

Once they’ve discovered such an “edible” tree, we feel confident they will return at some point. The question becomes: will we happen to be looking out the kitchen window to spot them when they do? In the future, we’ll make a unique point of looking out the front of the house, as opposed to the usual back garden where most of the animals visit. With the dense brush, it may be hard for them to navigate their way back there.

This holiday home consists of the dense bush surrounding the property lines. It’s an excellent factor for privacy and noise reduction but less appealing for giraffes and zebras who seem to avoid getting tangled in the low-lying branches, which warthogs, bushbucks, wildebeests, and kudus, who don’t seem to mind.  They’ll maneuver through any dense bush to get to some pellets.

We’d hoped they’d stay around longer. But, in their typical manner, they ate and moved on in search of more vegetation.

Whereas giraffes don’t bend to the ground to eat, although they bend to drink. Here’s exciting information about giraffe’s eating habits from this site:

“Four facts about giraffe’s eating habits:

The giraffe is the world’s tallest terrestrial animal and thrives on a diet of fresh greens. These curious creatures tower above the bushveld and, despite their gangly appearance and awkward gait, they move with ease through their environment. They survive in arid landscapes, savanna, and open plains; and vary in size and color depending on their region.

The next time you’re in a game viewer and come across a giraffe devouring greenery, take a moment to observe their eating habits. Here are four facts about a giraffe’s eating habits that will ensure you have a deeper understanding of their dietary habits.

1. Giraffes don’t need to compete for food.

Giraffes are browsers that feed off fresh shoots and leaves, and their height advantage means they have access to plenty of foliage that other herbivores cannot reach. The only other animal that can reach into the giraffe feeding zone is the elephant. The pachyderms stretch upwards and reach branches with their trunks, allowing them to grapple lush greens outside of the zone of other browsers. The male giraffe is always in an enviable position, given that they are almost always taller than their female counterparts! There’s not much competition for food sources with these delightfully curious terrestrial animals.

2. Giraffes eat old bones.

When herbivore animals eat bones, it is commonly referred to as osteophagia. The reason for digesting such unpalatable items is purely to supplement their diet with calcium and phosphorus. If their diet lacks nutrients, giraffes will bend down to the ground to scrounge for old bones. They will then chew/twirl the bones in their mouth to extract as many minerals as possible.

Goodbye giraffes! It was great to see you here!

3. Giraffe’s favorite food is acacia. But acacia trees talk. 

The bushveld is dotted with African acacia trees, which have juicy leaves and a thorny spine. Giraffes use their prehensile tongue to grip the leaves and extract the greenery without disturbing the thorny bits. Because this is their favorite meal, it means that our tall creatures tend to journey towards belts of acacia. Acacia will release an excess of tannins when under threat from overfeeding, and this compound leaves the greenery tasting incredibly bitter. The other trees will recognize the tannin release as an alarm system and follow suit. Giraffes activate the natural alarm system in acacia trees – a truly fascinating fact!

4. When a giraffe drinks water, it’s quite a process. 

Giraffes only drink every few days and gain most of their moisture from their herbivorous diet. When they do drink, they approach their water source with caution. They scan their environment for potential threats, hesitate, stand for a while, and then decide to drink. The giraffe will open its legs quite wide, bend its knees and lower its neck to lap up water, which leaves them in quite a vulnerable position and at the mercy of predators.”

In any case, we are thrilled they stopped by, and we’ll make every effort to spot them again when and if they stop by to munch on the green trees in the front garden.

Have a lovely day!

Photo from one year ago today, September 18, 2020:

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #179. Our glass table was set and ready for our dinner guests in Kenya’s outdoor living/dining room in 2013.  The landlord, Hans, and his wife, Jeri, were coming for dinner. With no Windex or glass cleaner in the grocery stores, I’ve had a heck of a time cleaning the glass tabletop. I asked Hesborn, our houseman, how he could clean it so well with no streaks. He said he uses soap and water on a rag, drying it with a dry towel. I tried this method, only to end up with streaks. For more photos, please click here.

Out and about in the park…Fabulous sightings, even on a rainy day…Odd ossicones…

What’s with the uneven ossicones? We couldn’t stop laughing!

It’s been a week since we shopped, and as much as we preferred to wait until the following Monday with the roads so bad, we needed a few vital ingredients. Instead of driving to Komatipoort in the rain, we decided to stop at one of the two local markets for the items we needed now, including eggs, cheese, tea bags, and sparkling water.

As has been the case every night over the past many weeks, it rained all night long and is pouring now as I write this, only minutes after our return from the trip to the local market. Our garden is still muddy, but it rained so hard, the uneven clumps of mud have smoothed out, creating a better base for the wildlife.

While returning to our house, we spotted Vusi’s truck trying to maneuver his way past the giraffes on the way to our house!

Yesterday, while peering out the kitchen window to the end of our long driveway, for the first time, we saw the ostrich family walking past, and an hour later, four or five giraffes. There was no way we could have put on our shoes and made it down the muddy driveway in time for photos. Nor could we have driven the car down there in time, scaring them off in the process.

Regardless of what some naysayers may acknowledge about Marloth Park’s wildlife being tame, they are ill-advised. Although an animal may tentatively engage with a human in the park, they are still wild, and when we are not there to feed them, they care for themselves, foraging for food, shelter, and comfort in this wild bush environment.

Lounging in the grass. I’d imagine giraffe’s joints might be painful in such awful humidity.

The fear that many homeowners and park enthusiasts like us possess is that, eventually, all the empty stands (lots) will be built upon, leaving fewer wildlife areas for the animals to forage and live in the actual wild freely. That could transpire in the next 10 to 20 years or even sooner.

The reality for us is that most likely in the years to come, should we be fortunate to live long lives, we may not be able to return to the park for the enjoyment we are deriving at this time.  Only the unknown future will present such options as time goes by.

Safari luck! Love seeing the giraffes!

No one knows what the future holds once they reach 80 years old or older (or any age for that matter). We can only hope to maintain a level of fitness, health, and well-being that will allow us to continue to travel as far out as seven years from now when I reach 80. Gosh, I have a hard time digesting this reality when in a mere five days, on February 20th, I’ll reach my 73rd birthday.

The past 30 years seem to have flown by. That in itself is mind-boggling. Only yesterday, I was 30 years old, or even 43 years old, when I met Tom in 1991. In June, we’ll have been together for 30 years. In itself, that’s hard to wrap our brains around. But, regardless of how much time any of us may have left on this earth, we still strive to make each day meaningful and worthwhile.

Could giraffes be any more adorable?

I know it may seem easy for us to say about living enriched lives when all we do is continue to travel and immerse ourselves in our immediate surroundings. But, even in that hotel room for ten months in Mumbai, India, we had many moments of meaning and purpose. And, of course, even our old lives were rich in experiences, love, and purpose from which we derived great joy.

Why did we choose to change it? And, why don’t we return to that life?

Handsome male duiker in the bush this morning.

We chose to travel the world for two simple reasons: that we could and wanted to. We could step outside the box of the  “expected” lifestyle for most seniors to embrace a lifestyle so far removed from our familiar reality, with adventure, excitement and challenge, all the while sharing the story with readers throughout the world.

The second question, “Why don’t we return to that life?” We don’t want to return to the hustle and bustle of a busy life in the US, the traffic, the cold weather and snow, the negativity in the news, the constant pressure of having to live a life commensurate with what is “expected of us.” This way, we live life on our terms, all the while sharing our story, exciting or mundane, with all of you.

Bending down for a morsel.

If and when we return to that life, based on who we know we are, we will make the best of it and once again find joy, love, and purpose in whatever may come our way. The tricky part would be continuing to write here, with content that would appeal to our worldwide readers. That, dear friends, will always be the dilemma. I don’t want this part to end.

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, February 15, 2020:

This giant 108-feet-high idol of Hanuman was unveiled at Jakhoo Hanuman temple in Shimla on November 4, 2010. For more, please click here.

First trip to a grocery store and pharmacy in over a year!…Precautions prevail…

How can you not love this face?

It’s the first time in over a year that either of us, in our adult lives, hadn’t been in a grocery store or pharmacy. Fortunately, since we’d shopped in Komatipoort in 2018/2019, we remembered the layout of both stories, reducing the time necessary to be in the crowded shops.

The pharmacy felt safer than I’d expected with an employee at the door, taking shopper’s temperatures and ensuring the hand sanitizer was used before entering. Taking temperatures is no specific means of a shopper not being infected, who may not be symptomatic. Signs were posted everywhere stating, “Do Not Enter if You Suspect You Have Covid-19.”

Here again, the pharmacy might be the first place an infected person may buy various products to combat the symptoms or fill a prescription. A woman coughed within a meter of me. People weren’t properly wearing their masks or making any effort to social distance, including employees stocking the shelves and helping customers.

Nice profile.

But, I was as well protected as I could be, barring wearing PPE. I had on my N99 mask, a face shield, and rubber gloves. I then ditched the gloves into an appropriate trash container the moment I left the store, putting on a new pair after using hand sanitizer in the car and donning a fresh pair of gloves for the grocery store. I don’t know what more I could have done.

The grocery store felt less safe when I had to ask the outdoor attendant to spray my trolley handle. When Tom came into the store, I suggested I continue to handle the trolley, not him, since I was more well-protected. He loaded up the food at the register and paid the bill, which came to ZAR 4713, USD $312.77.

We’d purchased enough food to last two weeks, except for some mince (ground beef) which we’ll buy at the meat market at the Bush Centre in Marloth Park in the next few weeks, which appears to be of a higher quality than offered at the Spar Market.

This youngster’s parents were in the background keeping an eye out for their boy.

By carefully gauging how much we purchased, I somehow managed to fit all the meat into the small freezer consisting of several drawers. Also, we had to leave a few drawers empty for ice for our ice cube trays, which Tom empties nightly for an entire supply of cubes for the next day.

Keeping in mind how hot it is here, we certainly go through the ice while drinking our Crystal Light iced tea all day. For example, at 1:00 pm, it’s 93F, 34C, and the humidity is 77%. Toasty. Sticky. Rain on the horizon.

It was interesting to observe how careless the people in Komatipoort are wearing masks, as they are all over the world. (Hmm, need I even reiterate this worldwide phenomenon?) Many people mingled in large groups outside shops, on the streets, and in the Spar parking lot, no mask, no social distancing. We steered clear of everyone.

Young citrus trees.

Before grocery shopping, we stopped at the Obaro hardware store in Komati, but when they didn’t have what we wanted, we hightailed out of there in a mad dash. No one was adequately wearing a mask. Most were wearing cotton scarves or homemade cotton masks that kept falling off of their faces.

Eventually, people tend to stop trying to put the masks back on, ending up working in the shops with either no mask at all or it was hanging off their chins. It’s no wonder the number of cases of Covid in South Africa and all over the world has continued to rise. One need only check out the world stats to see cases are still on the rise. (In reviewing this report, it’s essential to click on “yesterday” since today’s stats aren’t yet included).

Within a few hours, we were back at the house, feeling relieved that the grocery shopping was over for two weeks. In the heat, we hurriedly put the perishables away and organized the remainder. Now, we’re situated on the veranda every hour or so. I’ll return indoors to work on the treadmill to complete each of my four daily sessions.

This bridge was underwater, less than one hour later.

I turn on the air-con in the second bedroom about five minutes before I get on the treadmill, do my thing while listening to podcasts on my phone, and turn everything off when I leave the room a short time later. I am not walking as long a distance as I had on level ground in the corridors in India. The treadmill is raised to be a medium grade, which requires more work for shorter distances. That’s fine with me.

When we returned to the house, we found Frank standing at the glass sliding door peering inside. He was looking for seeds. We couldn’t accommodate him quickly enough. He chirped happily as he pecked at the seeds. No other wildlife yet today. With storms foreboding, the wildlife stays undercover.

May you have a safe and pleasant day, wherever you may be.

Photo from one year ago today, February 1, 2020:

Typical scene on a busy street in Mumbai. For more photos, please click here.

We’re still in Nelspruit…More medical tests required…Time is rapidly ticking by for our required departure…

A rickety old bridge no longer used near the Municipal campground, bird hide, and the hippo pool.

Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

A hippo and a cattle egret have symbiosis in their relationship.

It’s 1430 hours (2:30 PM), and we’re still in Nelspruit. The first round of the medical tests is completed.  Unfortunately, I didn’t fall into the 25% margin of error I was hoping for, and tomorrow morning’s test will tell more.

We stayed at the beautiful Leaves Lodge and Spa at the edge of town three minutes from the Nelspruit hospital and adjoining Mediclinic. We checked out of the hotel this morning, optimistic for a good result. 

But alas, we had to check back into the hotel a short time ago when the doctor explained more tests were necessary before a determination could be made. The CAT scan will be performed tomorrow morning, but we won’t have results until Wednesday afternoon.

Subsequently, we’ll drive back to Marloth Park to await the results. I can only imagine our readers out there who’ve been through this same process ultimately ending up with angioplasty or heart surgery of one form or another. Surely, you can relate to the worry and concern coupled with the angst of the unknown.

After a lifetime of taking care of my health, exercising, eating a healthy diet, and staying cognizant of stressful situations, I’m disappointed to discover my efforts were no guaranty of avoiding cardiovascular issues in my senior years.

However, the doctor explained had I not been so astute about my health, I could have had a massive coronary and not be here to tell this story. Of course, I’m grateful! It goes to show that genetics play a massive role in our health. My mother’s side of the family suffered from heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. As a young girl, I observed all this ill health and decided I’d take care of myself in an attempt to avoid obesity and diabetes by exercising and a healthy diet. In that area, I’ve succeeded.

A giraffe we spotted in the bush before the rains.

But the powerful genetics of heart disease isn’t easy to repel, so here I am now trying to figure it all out, only two weeks from my 71st birthday. Of course, I’m worried and so is Tom. On top of that, we’re supposed to leave for Kenya in 11 days, when our South Africa visas expire. If we don’t hightail out of South Africa by February 15th, we’d be considered “undesirables.” Oh, good grief.

We’d be foolhardy and flippant to dismiss this as a mere inconvenience in the realm of our world travels. Without proper care, we could conceivably have little time left to continue our journey.  

Remember? We’ve always said the only thing that would cause us to stop traveling was terrible health. Now, we’re determined to do whatever is necessary to ensure we can continue.

Before closing, I must say thank you to each and every one of our readers, family, and friends who’ve sent the kindest and most “heartfelt” prayers and good wishes for a positive outcome.  

During this quiet time in the hotel in the past 24 hours, I’ve spent most of my time returning email messages from kind and thoughtful readers/friends. At the moment, Tom is watching a replay of yesterday’s SuperBowl game and voraciously munching of a bag of salted peanuts, a great stress reducer.

I’m sipping a hot cup of Rooibos tea and thinking about how nice it will be when all of this is resolved, one way or another, and we can go back to being excited about the future.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, February 4, 2018:

Many icebergs form spectacular shapes, portals, and openings. For more photos, please click here.

We’re off to Nelspruit, hotel tonight…Hospital tomorrow….Remembering….

A few months ago, we shot this photo of two Big Daddies sharing pellets.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

A  pair of male lions, possibly brothers, checking out their options for lunch.

It was February 4, 2014, that I dropped my then laptop and destroyed the touch monitor. It was impossible to replace the monitor if parts were available since the cost to do so would be prohibitive, more than the cost of a new computer.

To see the post on the day, I dropped it, and please click here. To see the post from the following day, please click here, when our dear friend and driver Okey Dokey drove me to Nelspruit to a computer store to purchase a replacement.

I wasn’t thrilled with the HP laptop I’d purchased, but it managed to get me through until we arrived in Hawaii in December 2014. I ultimately purchased a new Acer model in January 2015, the one I’m still using that I bought at a Costco store in Kona.

While in the US in June 2017, we purchased a new laptop for me, knowing that our extensive travel resulted in tremendous wear and tore on laptops, and we didn’t expect it to last more than a few years.  

Handsome male lion lounging under a tree on a hot day.

As it turned out, Tom needed to start using the new laptop we were holding for me when his laptop died about six months ago. Finally, we were down to two laptops, no longer needing to haul a third as a backup.

The question remained…would my laptop hold out until we arrive in the US in April 2019 at over four years old? It has a few issues for which I figured out workarounds. Now, with only 64 days until we arrive in the US (staying for 17 days), I feel pretty confident, if I don’t drop it, it will last until we purchase a replacement. 

Replacing digital equipment is a challenge when traveling the world for as long as we have been on the move. For us, with all of our accounting and financials, blog postings, photos, and storage of TV shows and movies, no tablet can fulfill our requirements.  

Ms, Bushbuck, and Baby stop by every day. They love lettuce.

Plus, I find I need the bigger monitor and easy touchscreen available on these Acer products along with a lighted keyboard. As a lousy typist (still, after all these years), I need a lighted keyboard for nighttime typing.

Many have suggested we switch to Apple products, but we’ve been PC users since the beginning and have no desire to change. Also, with the higher cost of Apple products and the added wear and tear from constant travel, this makes no financial sense to us.  

At most, in the US, we can purchase exactly what I need for under ZAR 9321 (US $700), whereby Apple products are priced three times (or more) higher. Our philosophy is: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” or, “Love the one you’re with!”

A pair of giraffes at the Crocodile River.

Yes, we do try new things, obviously, right?  But, when it comes to areas of our lives of world travel, we find systems we have in place came about from years of experience, trial and error. And yes, we’re open to new technology, making every effort to research new modalities that may serve us well now or in the future.

So today, as we make our way to Nelspruit for my upcoming hospital stay (hopefully, short-term), I’m reminded of that time five years ago when Okey Dokey and I drove to Nelspruit laughing at funny stories we told along the way.

A short time later, at the mall, we realized that South Africa wasn’t necessarily the best place to purchase new digital equipment with limited options available to suit my requirements.

Giraffes were wandering down a dirt road in the park.

Tomorrow, we’re hoping to be back later in the day, after the first round of tests is completed and we know more. Thanks to good wishes from many of our readers. You mean the world to us!

To our friends and family in the US, have a fantastic SuperBowl Sunday!

Photo from one year ago today, February 3, 2018:

The whaling equipment in Deception Island, Antarctica, and its housing were destroyed by a volcano eruption in 1969, and operations ceased.  For more photos, please click here.