Happy Thanksgiving to all of our American friends in the US and throughout the world…

Three little pigs are growing fast. They love pellets!

Thanksgiving was always one of our favorite holidays. The family, the friends, the comfort food, the games we played, and the lazy football watching while recovering after the big meal, while contemplating the next piece of pumpkin pie, often to be topped off with a dollop of whipped cream for those who liked it.

Once everyone left our home, the dishes and table linens were washed, dried, and put away. The next phase of the four-day Thanksgiving weekend began…a full three days of decorating the house for Christmas. Traditionally, I started this process every year, on this same date with a process I followed to a tee, year after year.

Tom brought down all the decorations from the attic, and my work began, often with Christmas music playing in the background or a favorite TV show on, to entertain me during the lengthy process. My two sons never seemed interested in decorating. Instead, once it was done, they’d revel in the beauty of it all if I say so myself.

They are so cute when they are chewing.

Richard was living in Nevada from 1988 on, and Greg had his own home in Minnesota, creating his traditions and decorating. His house. In the years since I became an empty nester before I met Tom in 1991, the process continued seamlessly, year after year, never missing a beat, until our lives changed in 2012.

Often Tom had to work on Thanksgiving Day, even getting called to work on the railroad during Thanksgiving dinner. He swallowed a few more bites and headed out the door, leaving me with the adult kids to continue. Usually, he’d return within 12 hours, help bring down the decorations, and head back to work again.

By the end of the weekend, he’d come up the driveway in the dark to see the Christmas lights on the tree. Most years, I decorated two trees, one by the window facing the private driveway and another in the breakfast room to be seen upon entry into the house. It was a festive time. We loved every moment, especially after the work was done.

Mom happily shares the pellets with them.

Following Thanksgiving weekend, although I worked long days, I began the Christmas baking, making plenty for us to have at home but even more to give away to the kids, other family members, neighbors, and friends. Every spare moment from the Wednesday before Christmas, when I made about a dozen pumpkin pies, to after New Year’s when the decorations were put away, I was busy.

I shopped, mostly online, wrapped numerous packages, each with a handmade bow made by me on every single package. We sent no less than 200 Christmas cards, each with a handwritten message inside, and took them all to the post office after placing matching Christmas postage stamps on each card. Oh, good grief. I worked so hard.

In the 1990s, we started making bottles of homemade Bailey’s Irish Cream, later called “Lyman’s Irish Cream.” Tom did all the prep work making the delicious recipe and filling the bottles while I designed and printed the decorative sticky labels, placing them on the bottles once the outsides were dry.

We love how perfectly shaped Mom’s tusks are.

The first year we may have made about 25 bottles. During our last Christmas in Minnesota in 2011, before we decided to travel the world, we made over 120 bottles to give to special friends, which we both personally dropped off to the recipients. Whew!

Then, of course, there was a holiday dinner party for friends, the celebration of Tom’s birthday on December 23, Christmas Eve dinner, and festivities on Christmas Day. As the years passed, our children created their own traditions at their own homes with other extended family members, and those special traditions we’d hosted year after year changed with the times.

Yes, 2011 was the last year we tackled all of these projects. And now? What do we do? We don’t send Christmas cards. We don’t buy all those gifts. Instead, we send gift cards to the grandchildren. We stopped sending gifts to our adult children, requesting they don’t buy anything for us either.

They stayed in the garden for quite a while.

Once we began traveling, we stopped purchasing gifts for one another. We never have a Christmas tree or any decorations. We no longer make Lyman’s Irish Cream. I don’t bake cookies and Christmas treats. It’s all over now. And what do we do on Thanksgiving today? And over the Christmas season?

We celebrate the meaning of the holidays without the usual merriment associated with these special times. We are thankful. We are grateful, and we never feel lost, alone and sad about having let go of all that embodied the holidays for us years ago.

This will be the 10th holiday season we haven’t celebrated as we had in the past, and we are content and fulfilled in many other ways.

Today, on Thanksgiving, we’re meeting up with our new American friends, Carrie and Jim, at Two Trees on the Crocodile River (we were rained out a few days ago), and together we’ll all have a toast to Thanksgiving in the US. As for Christmas, we’re planning to spend Christmas Eve at Jabula with friends, along with others like us, who may not have nearby family members to join in the celebration of the holiday season.

On Christmas Day, we’ll stay at our bush house, cooking a nice meal on the braai and enjoying our wildlife friends who come to call any day of the year.

It’s all good. We’re content.

May your day be content and fulfilling.

Photo from one year ago today,  November 25, 2020:

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #247. View of houses on the channel heading out to sea in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. For more photos, please click here.

“Buggie” nights…A reality of living in the bush in Africa during the summer months…

Mom with four piglets napping on the edge of the lucerne. They visit at least once a day. The piglets have begun to show some interest in pellets.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

A second visit from the thick-tailed bushbaby.

Last night around 2000 hours (8:00 pm), for the first time since we arrived in Marloth Park in February, there were so many insects buzzing us, flying in our faces and landing on, and in our clothing, we had no choice but to go inside.

It went from almost no insects to this buzzing frenzy in a mere 24 hours. The only thing we can attribute this to is a result of the rains of several days ago. Even after we’d gone inside with the door closed, more insects buzzed us.  
We had no choice but to go into the bedroom (where we keep the door closed at all times), turn on the air-con and watch an episode of a TV series we’re wrapping up after watching a few episodes each week, The Brave (disappointingly, this show wasn’t renewed for a second season).
Wounded is beginning to look a little better but we doubt he can see from his left eye. He looks thin and weary but we’re feeding him all he’ll eat and we’re sure other residents are doing the same.
This morning as I was getting showered and dressed for the day, I spotted a slew of those pesky flying things in the bathroom. How did they get in?  What are these long-winged beige-colored flying things?  
I researched online but couldn’t find them. If any of our readers know what these are, please let us know. We experienced these same pesky things in Kenya over five years ago. I suppose we’ll see them again when we return to Kenya in 64 days.
This morning, back on the veranda, no insects are flying about our heads other than an occasional fly, bee, or hornet. With both of us allergic to bees and hornets, we get up and move when they pester us. I have so much repellent on, I can’t imagine why any insect would approach me, but they do.
Six bushbucks came to call around the same time. Generally, they don’t stay in groups but these two moms, two babies, and two other females showed up simultaneously.
For the past week, I’ve been using the DEET free repellent friends Uschi and Evan recommended as non-toxic.  I’m still getting some bites but they don’t appear to be mosquito bites.  
They look and react more like chigger bites. I’m not getting bit at night since the mattress was replaced but can’t figure out where these are coming from. Each day I have three or four more bites that itch for weeks, especially during the night.  
Last night I was awakened no less than five times due to the severe itching of about six of the bites. I put cortisone cream on them for a little bit of relief but only lasts for an hour or two. I don’t scratch much at all, knowing this makes it worse.
This is Africa. There are insects and there are bites. I guess I’ll just have to live with it for the remaining time we’re on the continent, using the safer DEET free repellent. The bites weren’t occurring any less frequently when using the repellents with DEET so I suppose the DEET free product is ultimately better.
This morning we found thousands of dead insects on the veranda.  We have no idea why they died or why so many at one time.
Soon, we’re heading to Komatipoort so I’m rushing through today’s posts. I have a dentist’s appointment and we have to do our usual grocery shopping. When dining out a few nights a week and time marching on until our departure, we’re purchasing fewer groceries than we had a few months ago.

We have plenty of meat (beef, chicken, pork, and fish) left in the big freezer which we’re attempting to go through now until we purchase any more. With many social plans over the holidays, we’ll be dining out often and won’t be cooking any big meals for now.

Tonight, we’re meeting Rita and Gerhard at Ngwenya for early evening river viewing and the buffet dinner indoors. We’ll see how the insect situation is on the veranda as the evening wears on. We may be going inside to dine earlier than usual if we’re bombarded with these insects again.

That’s it for today folks. We had some interesting wildlife events in the past few days which we’ll share in tomorrow’s post when we have a little more time. Right now, as more and more holidaymakers arrive in the bush, we’ve yet to see a single visitor this morning.  This could be our fate over the next three to four weeks as more and more tourists filter in.
Have a pleasant day and night wherever you maybe, hopefully, free of pests buzzing about your head!

Photo from one year ago today, December 13, 2017:

As we approached Cape Horn in South America on the cruise, one year ago today. For more, please click here.

A long night’s rest at last…Senior’s becoming addicted to prescriptions medications…Piglets paradise…

We couldn’t stop laughing while making this video of four baby warthogs and their playful antics. Please watch for a chuckle.
“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”
The piglets even tried to steal pellets from the kudus. Gosh, they learn quickly.

Yesterday, my first day on six tablets of Prednisone cortisone (with upcoming tapering doses) for my outrageous case of no less than 100 hot, inflamed itching pepper tick bites, we decided to lay low to see how I felt rather than go out anywhere.

Mom proudly showed up in our garden with her four new piglets. It was hysterical to watch their playful antics when they’d yet to learn many of the ways of being a warthog.

It took about five hours after taking the tablets to begin to feel some relief, and I was ecstatic to finally feel the itching subside after an entire month of itching, as I’ve never known.

I was exhausted from weeks of no sleep and several times tried to take a nap. As commonly known, taking large doses of Prednisone makes it difficult to sleep, another problem I didn’t want to tackle. How could I go 12 more days, the course of the medication, without any sleep?

Surely, over time Mom will teach them the ways of being a good warthog, how to protect themselves, how to forage for food, and how to be charming for the residents of Marloth Park to elicit pellets.

Luckily, Dr. Theo is well aware of this difficult side effect of the medication and prescribed sleeping pills to go along with it. I’ve never taken prescription sleeping pills, although from time to time, I’ve taken a Tylenol (Paracetamol) PM tablet in the middle of the night when sleep becomes elusive.  

The effect of these over-the-counter sleep aids only lasts for a few hours, but a few hours of sleep can make a huge difference in how one feels the following day. Never a good sleeper since a child, I’d resigned myself to this reality and try to worry or think about it much, which only adds to the difficulty.

They were always looking around for something they could play with.

When I looked up the name of the drug Dr. Theo prescribed for sleep, enough for 15 nights, I realized it is the South African version of Ambien, which I’d never taken. I heard nightmarish stories about this drug which may cause dangerous and most unusual behaviors in some patients.

I deliberated over taking it at 2200 hrs (10:00 pm), and I didn’t feel the least bit sleepy. I decided to bite the bullet and take the 10 mg tablet. I’d read online that one should put down their phone, book, or whatever they’re doing and focus on going to sleep. If one’s brain is engaged, the tablet may not work.

At only weeks old, they’ve already learned to eat pellets and other tasty morsels they discover on their knees.

I played with my phone for 10 minutes and then placed it on the nightstand and lay quickly under the comfy covers in the air-conditioned bedroom, and surely by 10:30, I was sound asleep, never hearing Tom come to bed.  

I don’t recall a single dream. I know I awoke once but was too groggy to check the time and went straight back to sleep, not awakening until around 7:00 am.  I felt groggy and stumbled around for a while, but I felt great after a shower and getting dressed.

A considerable amount of time is spent pestering their mom.

It’s no wonder so many people use this drug with many cases of abuse, resulting in many becoming addicted. That won’t be me. I doubt I’ll even take them every night during this course of Prednisone. It would be nice to save them for a real emergency.  

As a matter of fact, in perusing through our inventory of preventive meds in our pill bag, I found an entire bottle of Ambien neither of us had ever taken, we’d requested years ago when we began our travels, a just in case thing for overnight flights. We never tried the first pill.

She was very easy-going and loving with each of them, even when they ate pellets intended for her.

As we read news from all over the world, we’ve discovered that prescription drug addiction is rampant in the US and other countries throughout the world, among senior citizens and the younger population.  

We can only imagine how difficult it would be for an individual to support and supply such an addiction while traveling the world. There is often a misconception about how easy it is to buy narcotic-type drugs in foreign countries. Still, surely it isn’t when we read nightmarish stories of tourists being arrested for drug possession.

They are too cute for words.

Most travelers can bring in enough medication to last during their stay in any country as long as the medication is accompanied by a recent valid doctor’s prescription from their home country.  

Sure, here in South Africa, we’ve been able to purchase a small supply of non-narcotic meds (such as for hypertension and thyroid) without a new prescription as long as the home country’s doctor’s prescription is shown, usually no more than a 28 day supply.  

Mom was constantly aware of possible predators, of which there are few in Marloth Park.  If they were in Kruger, it would be an entirely different story.

Beyond that, one must obtain a local doctor’s prescription, which requires an office visit, usually not covered by insurance. Our appointment with Dr. Theo on Thursday was ZAR 565 (US $40.77) a paltry amount compared to an office visit in the US and many other countries.

In any case, yesterday proved to be spectacular. The weekend holidaymakers had yet to arrive, and our garden was jam-packed with visitors, day and night.

They’d run around like crazy on their own and then suddenly return to mom for some attention.

Amid all the wonders, one of the highlights of the day (we’ll share another highlight tomorrow) was the visit of Mom warthog and her four new piglets, who most likely were only a few weeks old based on their size and demeanor. We couldn’t have been more excited about watching their playful antics.

Please take a moment (it’s short) to watch our above video. Seeing this, you’ll surely understand how fun it was for us during their hour-long visit. We couldn’t toss the pellets quickly enough.  

Mr. Bushbuck hid in the bush away from the annoying little creatures.

Their little mouths were almost still too small for the pellets, but even at this young age, they knew to use the warthog’s method of eating, kneeling on their knees. It was too cute for words.

Tonight we’re picking up Rita and Gerhard at the Hornbill house and heading out to Aamazing River View for sundowners and river watching. Kathy and Don will meet us there, and after the sunset, we’ll all head to Jabula for dinner, exactly our kind of evening.

We’ll be back with more tomorrow. Please check back and have a fantastic day!

Photo from one year ago today, November 24, 2017:

On Thanksgiving Day aboard the ship, Tom watched the Minnesota Vikings game before we had to leave for the muster drill.  For more photos, please click here.