Finally, we shopped in Komati…This season’s hottest day yet!…99F, 37.2C, dew point 72, humidity 50%…Plus load-shedding…

Norman had some branches stuck on his head. It looks as if the branch went through his ear, but it was between his ear and horn. He is fine, thank goodness.

We procrastinated about going grocery shopping due to the 11½ hours a day without power, wondering if whatever we’d bought would stay fresh. Eskom sent a message this morning stating that load shedding was dropping from Stage 5 to Stage 4 today and down to Stage 3 on Sunday with only five hours of outages. That’s a significant relief, but most likely will be short-lived, especially during the holiday season and here in Marloth Park, with almost every house filled with owners and holidaymakers.

We only wish visitors would be more mindful of not wasting power and water, which has an awful impact on those who diligently monitor their usage. Surely over the next few weeks, the situation will escalate, and we all may be out of power for days, not hours. This is when we worry about our food in the refrigerator and freezer.

When we left on November 24, Tom put a single coin on top of an ice cube in each of the two ice cube trays, one in the refrigerator freezer and another in the chest freezer. When we returned, we could see how much ice had melted in the trays, and the coins dropped down into the cubes. This way, we knew the food in the freezers hadn’t spoiled when the coins had hardly moved. A nifty little test, eh?

This side view clearly illustrates it didn’t go through his ear.

We missed our opportunity to go to Kruger since we returned five days ago. When it rained a few days, there wasn’t a good day to go, and I overslept on a few others. Tom didn’t want to wake me, figuring I needed more sleep than seeing more wildlife. In the long run, he may have been right…today is Day #4, with no headache and no facial pain. Surely, good sleep helped in improving this dreadful long-haul Covid issue.

If any of our readers suffer from long-term sinusitis, please see your medical professional for assistance. Two nasal irrigation products worked for me the most; one Pysiomer used three times a day, and the other, a nasal irrigation kit with a dispenser and added medications used both morning and night, using warm sterilized water (not hot). Again, please see your medical professional for guidance in using these or similar products.

He was finally able to shake it off.

Now, to enter Kruger, we’d have to make a reservation and be faced with crowds at sightings. We’ll wait until the holiday season ends and go again when it’s quiet, sometime in January. In the meantime, we’re content with all the wildlife visitors stopping by each day and evening.

Once back at the house, after shopping, it took every ounce of energy to get everything put away in the heat. Since I had open heart surgery, I have had trouble bending over for any time. As always, Tom pulls a dining room chair up to the refrigerator to let me easily put everything away. He stocks the fridge on the veranda and the chest freezer. Before we knew it, we were done and able to enjoy a fresh mug of iced tea while he caught up on tasks on his laptop, and I began doing the post.

Nina was eating “Norman’s Lunch” along with the deceased Hoppy’s two siblings. Note the duiker in the background, most likely Delilah.

Today, at around 4:00 pm, 1600 hrs, I will put a “gammon,” a ham, in the oven to cook for one hour as suggested by the butcher when we bought it a few days ago. He said it would dry out if we cooked on the braai. I wouldn’t say I like the idea of turning on the oven on such a hot day, but we need to cook it today since it’s been defrosted for a few days and sitting in the fridge during countless hours of load shedding.

Tom will have ham, white rice, green beans, and salad, and I will have the same minus the rice. As always, it will be a lovely dinner, but with the mozzies and the humidity, we may have to eat in the dining room with the veranda doors closed. We’ll see if it cools down by then. However, according to the weather app on my phone, that doesn’t look promising.

Nonetheless, we are fine, cheerful, feeling well, and content. What more could we ask for?

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, December 15, 2021:

Mom and baby hippo on the Sabie River. For more photos, please click here.

It’s a scorcher today!…108F, 42C…Still no water in most of Marloth Park…Wildlife loving lucerne…

The three warthogs, Mom and fast growing Babies made a comfy nest for themselves. They slept there for hours.

Ironically, the temperature was also outrageously high a year ago on this date. I was making two pies to bring to Kathy and Don’s house in the bush; one pumpkin and another cherry, specifically for Don as his favorite. But any baker knows rolling dough for pies on a hot and humid day will end up being a fiasco, and it certainly was, as shown in our year-ago photo below.

I wrote in that year-ago post here:

“Kathy and Don are hosting an early Thanksgiving dinner for their American friends, Rita and Gerhard, and the two of us. Kathy managed to find a small turkey in Nelspruit. Turkey isn’t often consumed in South Africa and is usually purchased only for visitors from the USA.

The last time we all had Thanksgiving dinner together was in 2018, when we lived in the Orange house. The day before the event, I made eight pumpkin pies, which I described in this post. It was a hot day, with temperatures running at 102F, 40C, and pie crust dough. See that post here.”

Mom stood up when she saw me with the camera while her two youngsters were comfortable lounging in the lucerne.

We’ve had such memorable times with our friends in Marloth Park. There’s one occasion after another that we celebrated, for whatever reason, with great food, drinks, and lively animated conversation. Rita and Gerhard are now staying in Bali at the same fantastic oceanfront property we stayed at in 2016. See the photo below and our link to one of our first days there.

We stayed at this villa in Bali in 2016. Now, Rita and Gerhard are staying at this same house and loving it as we did then. See our post from that date here.

Kathy and Don are still in Hawaii at their beautiful oceanfront property. Hopefully, sometime they will be able to return to Marloth Park when Don fully recovers from an illness. We miss them too. Tonight, we are calling them at 9:00 pm, 2100 hrs., since there is a 12-hour time difference between here and Hawaii. It will be wonderful to hear their voices once again.

It’s serendipitous how all of our lives are intertwined after living in Marloth Park for a while. We are so grateful for all of our friends. Last night, once again, we were reminded of that fact when we went to Jabula for the second night in a row. We are always so grateful for the close relationship we’ve built with owners Dawn and Leon over the past nine years. We can’t seem to get enough of that place and the two of them.

On days like this, when it is so hot and uncomfortable that I may spend part of the day in the bedroom with the curtains drawn and the fan on. I don’t use the aircon during the day if I can help it, to do our part in the overuse of electricity in Marloth Park. If everyone uses their bedroom aircon all day and night, surely, there will be an outage. Then, we’ll have no power when trying to sleep, which is considerably less tolerable than during the day.

Check out the mouthful this Big Daddy took for himself.

With the fan on, which uses much less power, it is tolerable now with the temperature outside at 101F. 39C. The temp will rise to 108F, 42C, in the afternoon. I can’t imagine sitting outside for sundowners starting at 4:00 pm, 1600 hrs., but I imagine we will. Tom is outdoors right now and is fine with the heat.

Our JoJo tank still provides sufficient water, while Marloth Park is still without water, but today, I had to do some laundry. I’d hope to wait until the water is restored from the dam and the pipes fill up once again, but we have so few clothes doing laundry was a must.

Spikey loved the lucerne we had delivered yesterday. We leave the huge bale outside the fence and a small batch for the smaller animals inside the fence. This was, they all get some of the fresh green hay.

As I was hanging the clothes on the portable outdoor rack, they were practically drying in my hands. There are very few wildlife visitors today since they usually stay undercover on hot days like this. Today is the last day of the school holidays, and with lower temps expected tomorrow, we should see many of our animal friends in the morning.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, October 9, 2021:

The cherry pie crust was thick due to the awful heat and humidity today. Hopefully, it will taste good. For more photos, please click here.

Oh, what a night!…

Holey Moley, chewing on a piece of cabbage, we tossed her way.

Last time was torture. During the day, the temperature rose to 98F, 37C, with the dew point at a high/uncomfortable tropical 72. At about 4::00 pm, 1600 hrs, the power went out due to an Eskom fault. On the horizon at 11:00 pm. 2300 hrs, load shedding was scheduled to begin. We weren’t hopeful.

We were seated at the table on the veranda, listening to music and chatting about our dreams for the future amid these crazy pandemic times. When we heard the usual ping of a power failure, we started planning how we”d prepare dinner when several items we’d planned required the use of the stove.

We cooked the rice, creamed spinach, and bacon on the braai to go with our beef patties I’d already seasoned and prepped. Earlier in the day, I’d made a big salad that would stay cold in the fridge until we’d eat, a few hours later. Regardless of the power outage, we were roasting on the veranda in the interim. It was hotter indoors.

We prepared and ate dinner, and when the bugs got bad, we had no choice but to go indoors. With WiFi still working, we decided to sit on the bed and watch a few more episodes of Yellowstone. By 8:00 pm, 2000 hrs, we still had now power. Worried about the food in the fridge, Tom filled the metal bowl with ice and placed it in the center of the refrigerator, hoping to keep the contents cool enough not to spoil.

Only on the hottest days that Little sits in the cement pond.

The bedroom was a hotbox. We had to keep the door closed since many bugs were flying around the house, including flies that came out of nowhere when preparing any meat.

At 10:00 pm. 2200 hrs, we turned off the laptop to complete darkness except for the light from our phones. Since the outage, I’d been texting back and forth with Louise since she gets updates on  Eskom outages on her phone. She, too, speculated this would be our fate for the remainder of the night.

I’d taken another shower before bed but was dripping in sweat in no time. Tom was feeling the same, but neither of us complained. What was the point? We weren’t the only people feeling uncomfortable. The power was out in all of Marloth Park. Also, without power, the security system doesn’t work. The house locks up tightly. We keep the house keychain in the bedroom with us every night since the emergency button on the keychain is battery-operated.

Field Security could be here in five minutes if we pushed that button—lately, many break-ins and burglaries in the park, including on our road. We always stay super alert to sounds outside the house. Most of the break-ins have occurred at night when residents are in bed. This is especially frightening.

Getting to sleep wasn’t easy. I awoke at midnight sweating under my lightweight tee shirt. Tom slept restlessly beside me. Finally, we drifted off.

At 1:30 am, I heard the familiar ping of the power returning. We’d left the remote for the aircon on the bed between us. I couldn’t hit the button quickly enough. Within minutes, I was back to sleep, pulling up the duvet, hopeful our food in the fridge might survive.

He moved around a few times, looking for the coolest spot.

This morning, Tom said the ice in the metal bowl hadn’t melted, a good sign the food would be ok. What a relief! On numerous occasions, we have lost most of the perishables in the fridge.

Today, it’s still hot with a high of 97F, 36C, but with a slightly lower dew point which makes all the difference in the world. Of course, load shedding will occur tonight but only from 9:00 pm, 2100 hrs, for a total of 2½ hours. We can handle that easily.

Summer is almost here, but we’re already amidst its brunt now. It will worsen, and we will prepare ourselves for that eventuality. We could be in Minnesota now, where we spent most of our lives (Tom all of his life), where temps are often below zero with snowfalls hard to imagine. Nowhere in the world is exempt from challenges such as these.

We forge ahead, slaying the dragons as they appear and carry on, filled with hope and optimism for the future to come.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, December 6, 2020:

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #257. A pelican was proudly posing for a photo while in Pisco, Peru, in 2017. For more photos, please click here.

Still, few visitors due to lions…Two kills found in Marloth Park…Seventeen hours without power…Heat, humidity, dust mites in the bed again…

Note: Due to WiFi issues today, I am unable to post the caption for the photo below, which  should read:

This is Stringy. He often has dirt and vegetation on his horns, as was the case this morning. Please zoom in to see a string stretching across his two horns. Very funny!

We have been shocked to see so few visitors to the garden over the past several days. Last night, when we were getting ready to go to Jabula for dinner for the second night in a row, Little appeared, waiting on the edge of the veranda closest to where I sit. I was busy inside getting ready to go out.  He’ll wait there patiently for me until I come out to say hello. Not only does he love the pellets, but he also enjoys it when I talk to him, moving his head responsively and animatedly.

Last night while at Jabula for yet another pleasant time chatting at the bar with Dawn and Leon and some of their guests, we heard that two kills had been found in Marloth Park, obviously due to the four lions sighted days ago. They are still roaming the park for readily available food. Two Impalas were sighted, including a rare sighting as told by Jabula hostess Lyn,…vultures circling above the carcasses.

This is Stringy. He often has dirt and vegetation on his horns, as was the case this morning. Please zoom in to see a string stretching across his two horns. Very funny!

The wildlife in Marloth Park is subject to kills by leopards often seen at night. But, lions hunting is more unusual when they usually prefer to stay on the other side of the fence in Kruger National Park. The only way we’ll know for sure that the lions have left is when the animals return to our garden, as they’d done so before this event.

In the past few minutes, ten impalas appeared in our garden. Is this a good sign the lions may have moved on? Maybe, maybe not.

Stringy was sharing with the ten impalas that stopped by while I was preparing this post.

Some residents take the presence of lions very seriously, refusing to go outdoors, while others conduct their usual walks on the uneven dirt roads throughout the park. But, there is always a dusk-to-dawn walking curfew.  As we’ve done several times this week, one must consider their safety when leaving restaurants and gatherings when returning to their vehicles and bush houses after an evening out.

We always bring a rechargeable lantern with us whenever we are out after dark. Last night, with the power outage starting about while we were at Jabula, the light came in handy when walking from the carport to the house, turning off the alarm, and opening the front door.

The Big Daddy of the herd of impalas seemed to get along well with Stringy.

Lately, we’ve been seeing insects everywhere, including mozzies, ants, cockroaches (prevalent in the bush), scorpions, spiders, and many more. Now, during the spring season and summer looming, we need to start paying extra attention to avoid letting insects into the house when we open the door and watch for snakes coming out of winter hiding as the weather warms. Snakes will be next.

It was evident that many of the females were pregnant with bulging bellies, as shown in the center of this photo. Soon, we’ll see plenty of calves from this herd.

As for the dust mites, they are back, infesting our bed. Vusi and Zef will change the linen tomorrow, and when doing so, they will spray every inch of the mattress with the dust mite killer and repellent. At the moment, I have no less than ten areas of my body covered in hive-like welts from the dust mites, which are very itchy. I am using cortisone cream, which seems to work well.

As for the power outage, as of this writing, it has been 17 hours. We can still use our inverter for charging laptops and phones and running one fan in the bedroom. But with only two bars remaining as a charge on the inverter, that may stop working later today, at which point we won’t have WiFi, the fan, or a means of charging our digital equipment.

Impalas, who can grunt and bark, seemed to be harmoniously sharing pellets with Stringy. As shown, the bush is getting green after all the rains that have knocked out our power.

Hopefully, the power will be restored sometime today, and all will be well. Our biggest concern is always about saving our food.

Otherwise, all is well with us. We’re staying upbeat and looking forward to being done at the dentist in Malalane tomorrow. Tom is getting his implant bases set, and I’m having a bone spur removed from the space where the tooth was pulled six weeks ago. Oh, dear.

Have a great day!

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

This photo was posted one year ago in lockdown in Mumbai, India, on day #236. The various colorful displays were set up in the hotel to commemorate Dawali, the Hindu holiday. We asked the staff if we could come downstairs to take photos. For more, please click here.

An interesting and unusual day at camp…What’s cardboard got to do with it?…Tom, Tammy & TJ at Minnesota Twins Game…

Grandpa and Vincent at Cardboard Camp.
Time is flying by quickly.  With a little over two weeks remaining until we depart Minnesota, we’re packing our days and nights full of activities with family and friends.

View of Lake Johanna at Tony Schmidt Regional Park in Arden Hills, Minnesota where we picked up Vincent from “Cardboard Park” yesterday.

Yesterday, after completing the day’s post and taking care of some online tasks, at 2:00 pm we headed to Arden Hills (35-minute drive) to pick up grandson Vincent from camp and to spend quality time with him.  

Vincent’s summers are action packed at a variety of overnight and day camps.  We didn’t expect his schedule to change with us here this summer but we’ve managed to work around his busy schedule and ours to be together.

The kids from Cardboard Camp at their end-of-the-day gathering with camp leaders.

Arriving at Tony Schmidt Regional Park, we easily found the location for the camp with the help of the excellent navigation system in the red SUV and a few suggestions from his parents, Tammy and Tracy.

We had no idea what to expect when we arrived at Cardboard Camp.  After parking at a distant lot, we hiked up a steep paved trail to find a wonderland of kid’s made cardboard castles, tools, play weapons, and structures intended as a concept befitting “Knights of the Round Table.”

This is a cardboard castle the kids made using slabs of cardboard, the theme of this summer day camp.

Here are a few of the details about Cardboard Camp from their website.  Please click here for more information:


All weeks of classic AiC include castle buildingarms & armorgames and swimming whenever beaches are available at hosting parks. The terrain varies widely from park to park. Campers will have elective opportunities over the course of each week to customize their experience.

Building in the Armory

Build anything you want for your character or your Esteemed House. Usually, people begin by designing their own suit of armor and personal arms: The Realm can be a dangerous place! Work independently or collaborate with a team. Add spikes, fins, scales, plates, helmets, gauntlets, shields limited only by your imagination. Go classic or go mythic. Create your heirloom sword, ax, mace, halberd, spear or other deadly accouterments. Use and improve what you make in daily games of capture the flag.
Or… scrap the arms and armor and work instead on magical tomes, artifacts of power, hoods, capes, crowns, wands and rings of power!
Or… work on a farmstead and corral, a shop in the village, a tavern with games of chance, a forest hut for your sorcerer or a library for your wizened sage.
Each week will also have optional special projects with visiting local artists. Create a village, work on a giant maze, focus on siege engines, specialty bows or on more advanced live-action games.

Creating a Castle and Fortified Village

Design and build an actual castle or fortified village to inhabit, attack and defend with basic woodwork framing and large cardboard construction. Make walls festooned with battlements. Raise towers. Install a gatehouse with portcullis, arrow-loops, and drop-holes for defense.
Later in the week, this sprawling fortification becomes the locus for many role playing activities. It’s final size and the variety of activities that go on inside of its walls is up to our collective imagination. And for every person who manages to become Queen beware the Sword of Damocles that hang above your head
Vincent in front of one of the many cardboard structures.

Our mouths were agape over what we found in the lush green park with Lake Johanna across the road.  Plenty of camp counselors were busy interacting with the kids as they ran around the park, playing with cardboard and duct tape swords in hand, engaged in countless activities.  Who knew?

It was expected to rain last night which inspired the camp leaders to cover some of the structures with tarps.

We’d never heard of nor seen such an exciting environment where the kid’s own creativity and imagination would be at play as they built the cardboard castles, other structures and “tools of the trade.” 

They created a play world from another time in history providing them with an opportunity to literally (no pun intended) think “outside the box.”  The joyful look on all of their faces on Day 2 of the one week-long camp was indicative of how fun and interesting this concept was to each individual.
Cardboard camp rules.

The day camp ends at 3:00 pm, each of the five days.  While we waited for Vincent to collect his backpack, we had an opportunity to speak to one of the counselors about the exciting concept and the kid’s reaction to each day’s activities.

Cardboard Camp road block.

Vincent took us on a tour of the various cardboard structures while I’ll happily shot many photos as we wandered throughout their designated area of the park.  He was excited and proud to share the details with us explaining the meaning and purpose of the various structures.

Earlier in the day, Tracy dropped off Vincent’s fishing rod, tackle box and two portable chairs encouraging us to take Vincent fishing at Lake Johanna across the road from the camp.  We stopped for bait on the way to Arden Hills.

Many games and activities center around the camp’s theme.

Although the fishing wasn’t quite exciting enough for Vincent, he did catch a few tiny sunfish while we sat in the chairs on the lake’s dock, encouraging him along.  After an hour, we were on our way to grab some dinner at Wendy’s for Vincent and drop him off at home.  We returned all the fishing gear and visited with Tracy and Vincent before we took off for the next item on our busy agenda.

Many of the cardboard structures represent businesses to supply the needs of the participants.

On Monday next week, when Miles will be with us for the day, we’ll be taking him fishing as well at a lake in his part of town.  Good grief, there are over 15,000 lakes in Minnesota.  Everywhere one turns, there’s a possible fishing lake. 

Covering the structures with tarps in the event of rain is quite a job.

We intended to go fishing with the boys sooner but somehow time got away from us in the flurry of already planned activities.  We’ll post both boys fishing photos after Monday.

Tom wanted to attend a 6:30 pm railroad union meeting to see more of his buddies from BNSF with many of whom he worked for over 42 years.  Since they drink beer in the bar after the hour-long meeting end, the plan was for me to drop him off and pick him up later.  That’s me…handy designated driver, a title I’m happy to provide for Tom at any time or place.
Apparently, the urinal wasn’t working!

With about 40 minutes left until the meeting, we stopped at a restaurant/bar for a quick bite to eat.  The options for me were very limited and once again I opted for a chopped salad, this time with a chunk of grilled ahi tuna sitting atop the pile of bitter greens.  Not my favorite meal to date but what I eat isn’t all that important to me right now.  Tom had a Reuben sandwich with fries.  “Too many bad carbs,” she thinks with mouth shut.

Cardboard Camp requires a lot of planning and preparations in which the kids participate.

After I dropped him off at the bar in Northeast Minneapolis, I headed back to the hotel with the intention of preparing today’s post, at least in part.  With Maisie spending the day with me today, I didn’t want her to be bored while I clicked away on the keyboard in a frenzy to get done. 

Tj, Tom, and Tammy at the Twins game on Father’s Day.

Last night, when I returned to the hotel I was fully preoccupied speaking to my sister Julie in California.  We really hadn’t had time to talk lately during this busy period.  The time flew and before I knew it, Tom rang through, ready for me to drive back to Northeast Minneapolis and pick him up.

This was the first time in this past almost four weeks that I didn’t have ample time to do a post, at least in part, before spending the next day with the kids.  Luckily, this morning Maisie brought along an iPad and has been easily entertaining herself while I prepared this post.

Target Field in downtown Minneapolis holds 39,029 fans.

This morning at 8:00 am I hit the road again to pick up Maisie.  Luckily, the traffic wasn’t too bad and I arrived by 8:30.  After saying hello to Greg, Camille and Miles (Madighan was still sleeping), Maisie and I were on our way back to the hotel for breakfast. 

They had great seats in the 8th row on the first base line, priced at $102 each plus taxes and fees.

As soon as I’m done here, we’re hoping to be heading to the St. Louis Park Rec Center pool for a day of sun and fun at their massive pool.  Today’s weather, a very cool partly cloudy day, may make this outing impossible since the rec center requires temperatures to be at least 72F to open the facility.  So far, the temp is hovering between 70F and 71F.  We’ll come up with a Plan B if all else fails.

Tonight, we’ll both be attending Maisie’s soccer game at 7:00 pm, after which we’ll find a spot for dinner.  Busy days. Busy nights.  Memorable occasions.

The Twins lost.

Be well, dear readers and thanks for hanging in with us during this intense family visit.  More exciting travel stuff to come when we arrive in the travel mecca of the US…Las Vegas Nevada, in 16 days! 

From what son Richard reports, temps yesterday hit a record breaking 117F,  47C.  That in itself is rather interesting, eh?


Photo from one year ago today, June 21, 2016:

Tom’s tuna, rice and veggie dinner in Bali.  He lost weight eating these plentiful and flavorful meals.  We’re looking forward to cooking our own meals again.  We’re both feeling a little full from dining out every night.  For more photos, please click here.