We’re back after no WiFi for almost two days…It’s a piglet morning!…The wonders of nature never cease to amaze us!…

Octomom with her eight piglets, four of which she adopted.

We were both antsy without WiFi all day Thursday and most of the day on Friday. A train details about 100 miles, 160 km from here, and the internet lines were toppled. Then, a massive storm prevented repairs when It rained in buckets for over 24 hours.

We’d have gone to Kruger National Park, but with the rain and potential flooding on the dirt roads and fewer possible sightings in the storm, it made no sense to go to the park. Instead, we’d stayed home, except for a quick trip to Louise and Danie’s Info Centre to pick up a puzzle that I thought could entertain me with nothing else to do.

The Info Centre has dozens of books and puzzles guests can borrow at no charge, none of which could entertain us during this period. Who was I kidding that I could do a puzzle? With my short attention span, I lasted about five minutes and then packed up all the pieces and placed them back in the box near the door to return to Louise the next time we went out.

Now, I write this post at 10:30 am, and once again, the signal is lost, most likely due to the high winds occurring all morning…more downed lines may keep us without WiFi for days to come. Then again, TIA, ‘This is Africa,” and stuff happens. The infrastructure is delicate, and the slightest situation upsets an entire service for hours, days, or weeks. It doesn’t pay to complain. No one is listening. When it gets fixed, it gets fixed.

You may ask, “How do I post a notice that we have no WiFi?” I use Google Fi on my phone, which is way too expensive to use as a hotspot to work on posts. We only use it for a few moments here and there to get load-shedding, water,  or internet outage updates. But when the WiFi returns, I will keep typing and save this post onto a document to upload later. Sure, it’s frustrating, but what can we do?

I’ll keep watching to see if it returns for a few moments and upload this post as quickly as possible.

Octomom and her piglets snacking on pellets, apples, and carrots.

In the interim, we wanted to share a most precious update on Lollie’s piglets. Last night, while at the bar at Jabula, I spoke to  Honorary Ranger David. He, too, had seen Lollie and explained what was wrong with her. When she had her piglets a few months ago, there may have been a fourth piglet that was never delivered. It may have been the sac or afterbirth hanging from her rear end, not her intestines.

What happens next is what would happen to a mammal if the afterbirth isn’t delivered….it will become gangrenous and eventually turn black and infect the animal to the point that death is unavoidable. It is sad to think that poor little Lollie has been wandering around the bush suffering for the past few months, to the point where she finally had to release her three piglets to be on their own.

For a few days, they came here without her. We fed them. We called Deidre from Wild and Free Rehabilitation to ask how to care for them without a mom when they were still suckling. Deidre assured me that the carrot and apple bits, along with pellets, would help them to survive, and I found myself cutting them up several times a day to feed them when they often arrived, just like Lollie, who’d been our resident warthog for many months.

On the third day, shortly after the piglets left together, and to wander the bush, Lollie, whom we’d assumed had died, showed up in the garden standing at her usual spot by the edge of the veranda. We fed her pellets, apples, and carrots, but she didn’t eat much. The dark, gangrenous afterbirth was still hanging out of her. It broke our hearts.

After a while, she walked a short distance into a grassy area and peed, then slowly walked away. She looked thin and frail. We figured this would be the last time we’d see her. She was going off to die. I must admit tears welled up in my eyes. There was nothing we could do.

About ten minutes later, the three piglets arrived once again. They all sniffed where she’d stood at the veranda’s edge and then found where she’d peed. One of the little piglets started running around in circles, squeaking louder than we’d ever heard. The other two followed suit. They must have assumed they’d found their mom. They followed her scent but never found her.

The next day, a miracle happened. A mom we’ve seen several times a day with four piglets arrived with Lollie’s three piglets in tow. She had adopted them! After spending hours watching them for days, I quickly recognized the three little pigs, each with their distinguishing marks.

It was amazing to watch and see how her piglets had accepted them, and they all played together as if they were all related. We fed them plenty of pellets, apples, and carrots. After a while, they left but returned several times a day throughout the days to follow.

Pigs are smart. But, another oddity occurred. We’d seen one little piglet alone in our garden for a few days, perhaps lost from her mom. On the second day, after the mom who’d adopted Lolle’s three piglets appeared again, she had the lost, lonely piglet with her. Now, a mom of seven was a mom of eight, and I named her Octomom. In no time at all, she’ll know her name.

As for naming the piglets, well, that will take time once they develop their little characteristics and personalities. So far today, Octomom and the eight piglets have been here at least four times and surely will return as the day progresses.

So there’s our piglet story which helps soften the blow of losing Lollie, the resident warthog we’ve loved since we rented this house in May, eight months ago.

That’s it for today, folks.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago, January 7, 2022:

Gosh, our porcupine is becoming quite a regular. Next time we shop, we’ll purchase some root vegetables for her. For more photos, please click here.

For our Minnesota reader/friends…What did you think of yesterday’s Vikings game?…Names for Lollie’s piglets…

This is an African Hoopoe we spotted in the garden.

Last night, when we hunkered down for the night, Tom began watching the Minnesota Vikings football game using the app for which he pays each year, with replays of all US football games. I am supposed to take one 10 mg. tablet of Amitriptyline early each night, at 9:00 pm, 2100 hrs., so I am not groggy when I awake. But, usually, I am sleepy enough to nod off an hour after I take it.

Earlier, the WiFi was out for a few hours, so we watched a movie on the external hard drive, picked randomly since we had no way to look up the movie’s content or reviews. It was called Beast of Burden, a somewhat ridiculous premise, but with load shedding and no WiFi simultaneously, it’s what we had to keep us busy until the WiFi returned.

Once the movie ended and the WIFi returned, we could stream a few episodes of Animal Kingdom on Amazon Prime and later watch the Minnesota Vikings Game, which had played at 8:00 pm, 2000 hrs. At around 10:00 pm, 22000 hrs., Tom started watching the Vikings game while I couldn’t help but fall asleep.

This bird seems to hang out with Vega, a common starling. Is it the female of the species?

I should mention that Tom is a silent viewer of football games. Regardless of what happens, he is quiet and doesn’t make a sound, as much as he loves watching. But, the weird thing about this drug left me dozing off and on while I heard every play in the game.

Last night, in the fourth quarter, with one minute remaining in the game, he couldn’t keep quiet and yelled out, totally awakening me from my “twilight sleep.” Oddly, I heard what was happening in my sleep and would have been jolted awake anyway. What transpired in the game in the next hour blew our minds. It was the most exciting game we’d ever seen.

For Minnesotans and Vikings fans throughout the US and possibly the world, we held our breath along with you after one stunning play after another. We were so wound up after the win that we couldn’t attempt to sleep until after 1:00 am. Tom fell asleep, but I didn’t, not getting sleepy again until after 2:00 am.

We both ended up with enough sleep and felt rested today. But we’re still reeling from the excitement. What a night.

Lollie arrived this morning with her three piglets. We were happy to see them. We named the two boys Leon and Leopold and the female Lolita.

Today is much cooler with lower humidity, which is quite a relief. The temp is 80F, 27C, the sky is cloudy, and there’s a lovely breeze. The dew point is still tropical at 67, with the humidity at a more tolerable 65%. With many holidaymakers gone after the weekend, we’ve started to see our wildlife friends return for a visit.

After being absent for several days, other than to show up last week with her new piglets, we were delighted to see Lollie return this morning with them in tow. She brought them to us the day they were born and stayed away, other than a few stops without them, for pellets, carrots, apples, and lucerne.

We were worried something had happened to the three piglets, and then we realized she had wanted to show them off to us but then tucked them away for a few days to allow them to grow and feed before she brought them back. This morning, we were thrilled to see the four of them offering plenty of treats good for her.

Our boy Norman, the dad of Noah, and partner of Nina, our favorite family visitors.

We never feed the animals “bad” food, only nourishing pellets, fruits, and vegetables suitable for their diets. We look online at reputable sites to see what foods are appropriate for them based on their digestion and eating habits. Most herbivores do well with vegetables and fruit but not corn.

Our friend Lynne from Jersey, UK, stopped by for a visit this morning. They arrived a few days ago, and we’re excited to see her again. We will get together with her and her hubby Mick when we return from our upcoming trip.

We’ll be back with more soon!

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, November 14, 2021:

This is Stringy. Notice the strings from digging roots between his horns. For more photos, please click here.

Back to Komati today for appointments…

Lollie and her three piglets, so tiny, so cute.

We are experiencing a severe lack of wildlife visitors due to the upcoming weekend. From here on, this fact may continue until after the first of the year.  Starting in early December, most of the holiday homes in Marloth Park have been rented through the first of the year.

The restaurants will be packed, parking at Two Trees will be impossible, and entrance into Kruger National Park will only be allowed via an appointment. Now that travel has picked up, as the pandemic has ended, people are traveling here from all over the world.

Another warthog mom brought her four piglets for a visit. They are so cute and funny.

Many US travelers who are still employed do not come to Marloth Park due to the short term of their paid vacation/holiday periods and the lengthy time required to fly here and back, which may comprise four days of a two-week vacation. Few travelers want to use so much of their vacation on flights and often long layovers in airports between flights. Also, they may have concerns about jetlag and malaria prevention,

Many are opposed to living in an insect-snake-ridden area where they can’t drink tap water, with countless unpredictable power and water outages. Taking a cold shower in the dark may be a deterrent for some travelers. Often load shedding results in seven to ten hours a day without power. When unable to use the aircon during the night when there’s an outage, many are impacted by the quality of their sleep.

This mom has a hole in her side that appears to have maggots in it which help to eat the dying flesh which may prevent infection. She may have been fighting with another warthog or animal to protect her piglets.

One of the most challenging aspects, hard for travelers, is the weather in the spring and summer months. It won’t be summer until December 21, yet many days have been uncomfortable with high humidity, dew point, and temperatures. Overall, this past week has had several almost intolerable days. (Luckily, today is much cooler, and the humidity is lower).

Well, you know, if you’ve been reading our posts, the list goes on and on. Many tourists like to dine out for every meal, which is a part of the enjoyment of traveling. With only a handful of restaurants in Marloth Park, visitors can become frustrated over dining-out options. (Of course, if they’d tried Jabula they may have an entirely different take on it and love returning time and again).

Precious little piglets.

Yesterday, when we grocery shopped for the next two weeks until we leave for Seychelles, we were both sweating so much that when we entered the house, immediately, I changed into cooler clothes. When Tom unloaded all the groceries from the bags onto the counter, I looked at the pile of food and cringed. I still had a headache and couldn’t imagine getting through the task ahead of me. Since I cook, its better to put the food away.

Somehow, I got through it and could get back to work on finishing yesterday’s post and getting it uploaded. The WiFi was out when we left for Komati but was back on when we returned. After getting back to it, I got it uploaded after 4:00 pm, 1600 hrs., and finally, I could relax for an hour before making dinner, which I hadn’t prepped in the morning.

Then again, you know my spiel now…it’s all worth it. The first time we came here in 2013, was in December. The park was packed with tourists like us, and we had the time of our lives, which resulted in us repeatedly visiting with little regard for all of the above-listed inconveniences. We’ve gotten used to it.

It appears she has two females and one boy, based on facial warts or lack thereof, visible at this early age.

Also, a tourist visiting for a few weeks may experience only some of the above. But, never once have we heard of anyone not loving every moment here, regardless of the challenges. Many dreams of returning in years to come. Some do, and some don’t, more often due to the cost of staying here in the short term, especially for airfare.

We’ll head to Jabula as usual, anxious to see Leon and Dawn. With the awful headache this week, I didn’t feel up to going out. Last night, I started back on the small dose, 10 mg, of Amitriptyline, (in South Africa, it’s called Trepiline). I awoke this morning, after a fitful night’s sleep without a headache and reduced facial pain. The drug usually takes weeks to kick in. I am going to stick with it this time, even with the daytime sleepiness, possible weight gain and brain fog.

I will try to combat the possible weight gain with getting some exercise, no more low carb snacks after dinner and eating a little less at meals. The weight gain is caused by increased appetite for most patients. I have enough self control to combat this. I hope.

Soon, we are on our way back to Komati for my dentist appointment and picking up a new prescription for the medication and then to the pharmacy to get it filled.

Have a great day and weekend!

Photo from one year ago today, November 11, 2021:

A group of hippos is called “bloat.” Often they wander off on their own. For more photos, please click here.

A snake visitor…Don’t be fooled by small snakes…

The snake, a spotted bush snake, picked up its head to look at us as I took the photo, making it easier to identify.

It’s that time of year in the bush…when the snakes come out of hiding during the cooler months to search for food in the warmer months. Week by week, the temperatures are climbing, and at the same time, the number of snakes to be seen in the bush is increasing exponentially.

Yesterday morning, while I was in the kitchen preparing a salad for dinner, Tom called me to hurry outside and bring the camera. I dropped what I was doing, and rushed out the door with the camera in hand, turned on and ready to go. The small snake slithered in and out of the slats on the wooden section of the deck of the veranda, making photo-taking tricky.

We suspected the snake was venomous. It appeared to be a young boomslang, but we were wrong. Once we got a decent photo, I sent it to Juan de Beers, one of the excellent snake handlers in Marloth Park. Juan has helped us on several occasions when there have been venomous snakes in our garden. There’s no charge for this service, but it makes sense to give him a donation for his expert efforts, which we’ve always done.

Once I uploaded the photo, I sent it to him to see if he could identify it from the photo and thus determine if he needed to come out and remove it. Snakes are not killed when rescued, regardless of the type of danger from a particular snake. They are moved to the river or other wildlife areas, safe from human intervention.

The snake kept going in and out of the spaces between the boards on the deck area of the veranda.

A short time later, I heard from Juan, and he identified the snake as a spotted bush snake, described as follows from this site:

Full Name: Spotted Bush Snake (Philothamnus semi variegates)

Other Names: Variegated Bush Snake; Gespikkelde Bosslang

Classification: HARMLESS

An alert, day-active snake that climbs well and is often found between the walls and ceilings of outbuildings, where it hunts for geckos and frogs. Sadly this harmless snake is often mistaken for a Green Mamba and needlessly killed.

The body is bright green to copper-green with distinct blackish spots on the front half of the snake but little or no dark marks on the back half. The belly is yellowish to white, and the pupil is orange.

This snake has keeled belly scales, enabling it to climb up the bark of a tree or even up face-brick walls. It is commonly found in suburban gardens, and domestic cats often kill juveniles.

There are a number of harmless green snakes of the genus Philothamnus and they can be quite difficult to tell apart.”

There was no danger to us from this snake. Juan offered to come out and remove it, but we saw no need. It might have been the same snake we saw climbing on a tree in our nearby garden in early winter that made its way to the underside of the wooden deck. Yesterday, a pleasant warm day, the snake may have decided to venture out from hiding to search for food.

Tom had watched the snake interact with a gecko. Perhaps, that was its attempt at a nice little breakfast. Do snakes hibernate? Here is the answer from this site:

“Snakes and hibernation

Hibernation has been described as an inherent, regular, prolonged period of inactivity during winter. Hibernation is a term associated with warm-blooded animals (endotherms) such as mammals and refers to a period of inactivity as well as a shut down in the metabolic system to save energy. Reptiles on the other hand are said to brumate – become less active, but do not shut down and will be active with a slight increase in temperature. The term brumate was coined by Wilbur Waldo Mayhen back in 1965 and referred to research he was doing on Flat-tailed Horn Lizards – he found that even if he heated these lizards up in winter, unlike other lizards, they would still not feed and become lethargic. Strangely, Mayhen’s term does not technically apply to the standard period of inactivity in our reptiles as our reptiles will become active with a slight increase in temperature on a warm winter day.

Snakes in cold regions of the world go into a state of torpor (inactivity) for long periods of time, up to 8 months, and often in dens where hundreds or even thousands of snakes may share the same winter shelter.

In Southern Africa it rarely gets cold enough for snakes to truly go into torpor and although they are far less active in winter, snakes may emerge from their winter hide-outs on a warm winter day to bask in the sun and drink water.

According to Professor Harry Greene, snakes consume between 6 – 30 meals per year and this is in summer. During winter, they do not eat very little or, if they do, very little. Most mammals will die within a few days if they are deprived of food but some snakes are known to have survived for more than a year without a meal. Because snakes are ectotherms and require no food for their heat requirements, they can survive with very little food and a large Puff Adder probably consumes less than 1 kg of food per year.

Prior to winter there is a peak of snake activity in South Africa as snakes build up fat reserves and seek a suitable shelter for the cold months ahead. But some snakes, like pythons and Puff Adders, are actively busy with mating on the Highveld right into the middle of winter.

When seeking a hide-out for winter, snakes will carefully seek a shelter that (a) has sufficient moisture to ensure that the snake does not desiccate and (b) cannot easily be located by predators. As it cools down, the snake may move deeper and deeper into its hole but rarely remain motionless unless the temperature drops to zero degrees C.

With a dramatic drop in snake activity in winter, very few bites are reported and the majority of bites on humans are recorded in the warm summer months of January – April/May.”

It moved close to the pool and then it was gone, probably hiding under the deck or off into the bush to look for food.

We watched the harmless snake slither away, content we had no concern about it staying in our garden through the upcoming hot summer months, when snakes are seen more frequently. Of course, I’ll always say, “Watch for snakes,” when walking outdoors both during the day and at night.

A few years ago we saw a venomous snake on the handrail on the stairs leading to Jabula. As we started up the steps, bystanders hollered to us, “Don’t go up there! There’s a snake!” We were grateful for their intervention. Juan came and removed the snake a short time later.

Our fingers are crossed for our dear friend Leon, who is still in hospital in Nelspruit. It will be weird to go to Jabula tonight and he won’t be there. He and I have chatted back and forth over the past few days and he sounded better than we’d expected. But, in support of Dawn and the restaurant, we’ll still go for dinner tonight and tomorrow night.

Small or baby snakes are not more or less venomous than the larger of the species. The venom is the same and can easily be as deadly as full-grown adults. All snakes must be avoided, respectful of their habitat and avoiding the risk of a life-threatening bite (or spray from a Mozambique Spitting Cobra). It is wise to notify certified snake handlers to remove venomous snakes from human-occupied areas.

Be well.

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

Several female kudus stopped by this morning, including Bad Eye, whose eye is completely healed but looks a bit off-center. For more photos, please click here.

Last night’s surprise dinner guest!…Everyday brings something new!…

As soon as piglets are born, they are lively and animated, running all over. The boys have facial warts. The girls do not.

Our friends Rita and Gerhard left Marloth Park at the end of September. We were sad to see them go but excited for them that they were heading to Bali to stay in the same house we rented in 2016, and we loved every moment. They, too, have loved it there, and we’ve been excited to hear of their adventures in that special house and distant area from the capital city of Denpasar, a five-hour harrowing drive.

Sadly, an awful storm recently devastated the beach and many homes in the area, but somehow “The Beach House” is intact. Gerhard and I wrote back and forth on Whatsapp, as they’ve treasured the exquisite location with the same passion we did so many years ago.

When Louise wrote a few days ago and asked me if we knew Gerhard was back in Marloth Park without Rita, we worried something was wrong.  No, he hadn’t contacted us. But, as it turned out, he had returned to sell the “bakkie” they bought here a few years ago, realizing they wouldn’t be returning here for about a year, and the expenses and upkeep of storing the vehicle in Johannesburg made no sense while they were away.

I was so excited to see the piglets that I didn’t hold the camera steady.

But why hadn’t Gerhard let us know he was coming, and eventually was here? He wanted to surprise us once again. But, when Louise told us he was here, I immediately contacted him to invite him for dinner, not realizing his arrival was meant to surprise us. The two of them love surprises!! They showed up at Flo and JJ’s annual New Year’s Eve Party, which we attended to surprise us, and a surprise it was. They are so funny how they love surprises!!!

Last night at 4:30 pm, 1630 hrs, Gerhard arrived at our house for dinner carrying a brown paper bag with Krispy Kreme donuts for Tom, as he always does! It was great to see him. Of course, we understood why Rita didn’t join him since it was easier for him to fly out on his own to set up the vehicle sale.

As of yesterday, all of the details for the vehicle’s resale have been accomplished, and in the next few days, Gerhard will fly back to Bali to the beautiful house and his dear Rita. We’ll see him again tonight at Giraffe for drinks at the bar and dinner before he heads back to Bali. Gerhard was an executive at an airline, and he travels economically more easily than most of us.

I didn’t want to get too close and scare off the piglets.

Last night, sitting outdoors on the veranda was one of the hottest nights we’ve experienced in a year, but it was great to hear Gerhard’s stories of their blissful time in Bali. They’d not only come to Marloth due to our site but also to that fabulous oceanfront holiday home with a huge infinity pool. We spent all our days in that pool overlooking the ocean, and Rita and Gerhard did the same.

While outdoors, we saw a mom and three newly born piglets for the first time this season. Louise, whose house is only a few doors from us, said they were born yesterday under her veranda. A few hours later, they were here. We couldn’t have been more thrilled, as shown in today’s photos.

Lucerne was delivered this morning, and it’s been unreal to see so many animals come by to partake in the fresh green hay bale. We had no less than 25 animals standing over the bale at one point, enjoying every bite. I kept getting up to take photos which we’ll share in tomorrow’s post.

Also, I keep jumping up to do the steps. I made it to 7500 yesterday and hope to make it to 8000 today. Today, I had a late start when I slept over nine hours last night. This increased activity level makes me sleep better, which is an excellent side benefit. Getting in so many steps inside the house and on the veranda is challenging, but I don’t care to walk on the uneven dirt roads nearby.

On another note, I don’t know how comfortable I’d feel walking on the roads by myself right now when lions have been seen during daylight hours. I’ll continue to walk at the house.

Have a great day!

Photo from one year ago today, October 26, 2021:

Sunset over the Zambezi River, the longest river in Africa. Notice the spray from Victoria Falls in the left rear of the photo. For more photos, please click here.

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.