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’s off to the US, returning in ten days…

This looks like Bossy and her new baby! Ironically, Bossy had a new baby one year ago that we posted in the below photo.

It is peculiar that I will be alone in the bush house for the next ten days while Tom travels to the US for his brother Jerome’s funeral, which will be held in Minneapolis on Wednesday. By leaving today, he’ll arrive tomorrow after over 35 hours of travel time with layovers in Cape Town, South Africa, Washington DC, and then the final leg to Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Leaving today rather than waiting until closer to Wednesday,  allows him a day to recover after losing considerable sleep during the long journey, especially the 16-hour red-eye flight, which is, by far, the most difficult of the flights. The cost to book an upgraded seat in Business or First Class is thousands of dollars, which we don’t care to spend for the 16-hour convenience.

This Big Daddy has been visiting several times a day.

After all these years of flying worldwide, we’ve become used to long flights, frequently getting up to walk around, wearing compression stockings, and busying ourselves, watching countless movies to avoid boredom.

I charged and tested our new portable phone charger, which works great. He took it with him so he won’t run out of power on his phone while on the plane. Then, while in Minnesota, where he’ll surely be using his phone often, he won’t have to worry about running out of power when he’s out and about.

Bossy, her baby, and another female.

All he has to remember is to charge the portable charger overnight while he’s sleeping. I will remind him of this when we talk. He can easily become distracted by the activity around him and forget this new step in his routine. He will stay with his daughter Tammy and undoubtedly be distracted in their busy and active household.

I am staying in today. I already made a hearty salad with various greens and am cooking chicken in the oven right now to go with it. Load shedding occurs this afternoon at 1:00 pm, 1300 hrs, when I can’t use the oven, so I decided to cook the chicken now. It’s enough to last me for two or three days.

Zebras started lining up along the fence for a treat.

Breakfasts are easy with eggs and avocados. I don’t plan on cooking much while Tom is gone, so I purchased plenty of wild-caught tuna and salmon to get me through several days. I don’t snack often, but if I feel like I need something, I purchase plenty of imported Emmenthal cheese which is always a satisfying snack to hold me until the next meal.

It’s going to be very weird to me with Tom gone. I doubt I will do sundowners on the veranda, especially since some disgusting slimy black worms are slithering around. Once they are gone in the next few days, as predicted, I’ll look forward to spending more time outdoors with our wildlife friends. But, I don’t drink wine alone, even my lightest of wines, so most likely, when I do sundowners, it will be with a big chilled mug of cinnamon green iced tea.

Perhaps, a few of our friends may stop by to visit while Tom is away, but if not, before I know it, Friday will arrive once again, and I’ll be heading to Jabula with friend Sindee who offered to pick me up and bring me home. I only agreed to allow her to do this if she let me buy her dinner both nights. It will be a fun “girl’s night out” for both of us, along with all of the other locals we’ll chat with who often appear at the bar.

There were six of them.

Before I know it, I will be writing here that Tom is returning, and we can settle back into our old routine of this glorious life in the bush, enjoying abundant wildlife and friends.

Sending love and prayers to Jerome’s children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and new great-great grandchild, Tom’s siblings and all of their family members, and everyone who knew and loved Jerome, of which there are many, including us. W will miss him.

Tom just sent me a Whatsapp. He arrived safely at the Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger Airport, checked his bag, and is now boarding the plane. I have a feeling we’ll be sending lots of messages back and forth in these next ten days.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, March 5, 2022:

Bossy doesn’t bring her baby to see us every time she visits. In time, she will get her more often. For more photos, 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.

Sorrowful family news…Tom is heading to the USA…

Jerry and his lovely wife Lee, his favorite Norwegian.

We knew that eventually, we’d lose a loved one, which would require an imminent trip to the US, mainly because Tom is the youngest of his remaining eight siblings. Sadly, last night Tom’s eldest sibling Jerome, 94, passed away after a short illness resulting in him being in hospice care at the VA hospital in Minneapolis, Minnesota, over the past few days.

This morning, Tom awoke to a message from his daughter Tammy and Jerome’s daughter Jerri that Jerome passed during the night. Tom hasn’t been able to talk to anyone in his family yet since he found out it was the middle of the night in the US with the eight-hour time difference. As soon as the family starts waking up today at around 4:00 pm, 1600 hrs. when he will talk to the family to find out when the services will be held to ensure he gets to the US  in plenty of time for the funeral.

Jerome has been an integral part of the lives of Tom’s family members and our lives. In the first several years of our world travels, we sent him our posts daily so he could listen to them on his talking computer. Jerome was totally blind and had been so since 1970 but had adapted amazingly well to this limitation. (We always admired Jerry’s strength and ability to fend for himself, and he has lived in his own home until this recent illness).

When we decided to leave to travel the world, Jerome encouraged us to do so with gusto. We even wrote a story about his enthusiasm for our travels in this post dated December 18, 2012, only a few months after we left. Please refer to that post which so well shares Jerry’s powerful and supportive message that “we’d be his eyes as we traveled the world.”

Jerome was a twin, born on a farm in Winsted, Minnesota. His twin, a boy named James, passed away several days later. The family always honored the loss of his twin and, of course, Jerome, as the eldest of 11 children in the family. The family includes well over one hundred multigenerational members, many of whom we’ve yet to meet with many recent births.

Jerome was a great-great-grandfather. His beloved wife, Lee, whom he referred to as “his favorite Norwegian,” passed away in December 2013. They’d been married for 61 years. He and Lee had three children, Jerri, Steve, and Kathy, with many young ones following from his eight grandchildren and now great and great-great-grandchildren. Jerome always said his only regret was being unable to see the faces of his grandchildren and eventual great and great-great-grandchildren.

Jerome’s attitude and demeanor left all of us reeling with wonder. His blindness was but a blip in his daily life and was often a source of well-intended good humor by his family, teasing him about driving a car and giving great driving directions. He was masterful at playing cards using special Braille-marked cards. Family members often played cards with him, including us, when we lived in Minnesota and when we visited in the past 10-plus years.

When I first met Jerome in 1991 at my then house in Minnesota, long before Tom and I were married, I told Tom after everyone left after a fun day by the lake, “Your brother Jerome “felt me up” (non offensively, of course). He felt the sides of my body and the features on my face. I stood there patiently, not saying a word, nor did Lee, his wife, sitting beside him. Tom laughed and responded, “That’s how Jerry can tell what you look like.” We often told this story accompanied by a heartfelt chuckle.

Jerome loved that we were living a dream life by traveling the world. When we called him, he often asked many questions and was fascinated by our stories and adventures. And we could spend hours listening to his stories of the decades of family life and his experiences before and after he went blind. Like their dear mother, Mary, Jerome was a fine storyteller up until the end of their lives. never forgetting even the most minute details, including dates and events.

Jerome will be sorely missed by all the lives of those who knew and loved him or anyone who may have been fortunate enough to cross his path.

We send our love and prayers to all the family members whose hearts are broken and saddened by this loss of their dear man. We grieve along with you and pray for his restful eternity with his beloved wife, Lee, “his favorite Norwegian.”

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, March 2, 2022:

We looked forward to sitting here and watching the visitors stop by. But now, there are so many worms I won’t sit outdoors. They fall on my head and face. Yuck! For more photos, please click here.