Finally, we’re beginning to have a social life!…Fun time out last night with photos!…

Some of the patrons at the table behind Tom warmly greeted us and chatted for a bit before the remainder of their group of eight arrived.

Last evening, when we headed to Kokomo for the second time in a week, we anticipated it would be closed again after we’d stopped by on Saturday evening, and no one was there. We’d heard that it was open on both Wednesdays and Saturdays, but that Wednesday was $5 burger night.

As it turned out, much to our delight, the lights were on, and the door opened. There stood Sylvie, Igor’s property manager, greeting us and inviting us to a table. She doesn’t speak English, but we were able to communicate. Our Google Fi doesn’t work around here, so there was no way we could use Google Translate when the restaurant had no WiFi signal for guests.

When we arrived at Kokomo restaurant a few minutes after 5:00 pm, we were the only patrons there. By the time we left at 7:30 pm, every table was full. I didn’t take many photos of the patrons, preferring not to intrude on their dinner.

Looking at the menu, it is mostly in French since many of the locals are French Canadians who speak English, French, and a little Spanish. Following is a copy of the menu. I took a photo of it so that before we go next time, I can translate it and figure out something else to order than the burger patty I ordered without sides. All of the items are in US dollars.

We noticed locals eating salad, but most had been here for many years and may have built up an immunity to the tap water used in washing raw vegetables at local establishments. After my awful experience of eating a salad in Morocco in 2014, I learned my lesson then, and I don’t eat raw vegetables in countries where it may not be safe.

There wasn’t a typical sit-at-bar, but the tables were close enough for some friendly banter.

Tom had the $5 burger and fries, but after seeing so many people order the lasagna and club sandwich next Wednesday, he’ll order something else. Tom had a large-sized beer, and I drank something out of character for me: a Coke Zero. I couldn’t get down one more bottle of water after all the water I’d been drinking lately. I won’t make diet cola a habit, but it tastes good, and I am not drinking wine for a while.

Tom was able to find a beer he liked, Pilsner.

As it turned out, the restaurant was fully packed by 6:00 pm. Every table was filled, and another couple, Doris and John, sat with us while we chatted on and on, having a great time. Many others stopped by our table to welcome us to Mirador San Jose. Finally, we had the blissful feeling of being able to have a social life here.

Next Wednesday, we’ll head back to Kokomo, but this time, we’ll know some people and feel all the more welcome. In the interim, I will translate the menu and see what else I can order that will work for me. If not, I can always have a bite to eat before we go out. No big deal. It’s only food. It’s the social interaction we so much appreciate.

Shortly after we arrived, locals were coming for Wednesday’s $5 hamburger night. It’s the only night the restaurant is open at this time. Soon, “snowbirds” will come, and perhaps the restaurant will be open more often.

Yesterday, I had a perfect first day of renewing my health. I did the indoor stepping as planned for over eight hours. Also, I found a video on my Fitbit with a gentle yoga class, which I will do again today and every day going forward to regain some flexibility. Yesterday was a perfect “diet” day for me. I ate plenty of vegetables (except at dinner), protein, and moderate fat but less food in general, hoping to shed those pesky ten pounds I’ve been hanging onto for the past few years. I am logging my food intake into the free app Chronometer, which helps me stay on track.

When I started thinking about how long I have been inactive, I realized it all happened when we got COVID-19 and after that, over 18 months ago. Basically, since then, I have been relatively inactive when the COVID-19 symptoms lingered, and then the Afib escalated, which started the day I tested positive. I genuinely believe that COVID-19 began this entire mess since, before that time, I never had Afib, nor did I have so much trouble walking.

Colorful glass blocks were built into a wall.

This morning, we did laundry and prepped the food for tonight’s dinner: ribs, rice, and green beans for Tom and sauteed seafood mix, green beans, and avocado for me. It will be a lovely dinner and evening for sure. Soon, we’ll head to the little store in this gated community for more water and a few odds and ends. It’s like a Quick and Easy with a limited inventory but carries a few things we need occasionally.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, November 2, 2013:

I love this look on Tom’s face as he’s learning how to handle the python at the resort in Diani Beach, Kenya. Like an infant, the python’s head must be held up to avoid injuring it. For more photos, please click here.

On the fence…Party or not to party?…

Big Daddy loves cabbage, along with all the other antelopes.

It’s hard to believe the Christmas season is almost over. I’m still in the mood for baking, so this morning, during load shedding, I whipped together a double batch of lemon poppyseed muffins which have been baking since the power came back on a while ago. With muffin papers skimpy here and difficult to remove from the muffins, I made two loaf pans of lemon poppy seed bread which will turn out fine at a lower temperature and longer cooking period than the muffins would have.

Once the loaves are done and cooled, I’ll slice them into individual servings and freeze them for Tom. Each day he’ll take out a pack of two slices with his coffee, a nice treat to start the New Year. I didn’t bake a keto treat for myself since I was watching my weight. My one daily treat is the two thin slices of keto macadamia nut bread I’ve had with either egg or avocado for breakfast.

An unfamiliar female bushbuck and her tiny calf stopped by today.

When trying to lose weight on low carb, calorie intake does matter, and I try to keep my daily intake at about 1400 calories and 20 grams of carbs or less. The weight loss is slow at these macros, but I am not about to starve myself, leaving me hungry and thinking about food all the time.

I can stay satisfied with these numbers and never think about eating anything other than my two daily meals, breakfast and dinner. I’ve cut out all snacks and only use a maximum of 200 calories and six grams of carbs if I want to have wine at sundowner time. There are several low-carb, low-sugar, and low-calorie wine options here in South Africa. I couldn’t find any such wine while in the US, so I didn’t drink anything unless we went to dinner, where I’d have a glass of pinot grigio or some other low-sugar wine.

Several male impalas have been hanging around in today’s rain.

Also, this morning, before starting today’s post, I worked on receipts for the claim for the lost luggage for at least an hour. I put a good size dent in it by simply making PDF documents of items we purchased in 2022 in those bags. I finished all of 2022, and I’ll start working in 2021.

Tomorrow,  New Year’s Eve day, we’ll decide if we’re going to the New Year’s Eve party at the bush home of Flo and JJ’s friends, whom we don’t know. At this point, we’ll only know Flo and JJ and their grown kids at the party. It won’t be the first time here in the bush; we’ve attended a party where we didn’t know the hosts.

We purchased two good-sized gammon roasts (ham), which we’ll cook in the morning if we decide to go. Once done, we’ll trim and slice the meat and make 48 ham and cheese sliders to bring to the party. It’s time-consuming to make these but certainly easy and uncomplicated to prepare.

Mom jumped the fence, but the baby squeezed through the wooden posts to join her.

Had we planned earlier, we could have made a reservation for Jabula’s New Year’s Eve party, but at this point, they are already fully booked. Plus, South Africans are huge sports fans, and tomorrow night there’s a game on TV, and patrons of Jabula will be packed into the bar watching the game on the two screens from 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm, 1900 hrs to 2130 hrs. This environment doesn’t particularly appeal to us, especially since we aren’t avid fans of their sports.

There’s a Minnesota Vikings game on Sunday night, New Year’s Day, which Tom won’t watch until the following morning due to the time difference. The Vikings are doing pretty well, so watching will be fun. We have no plans for New Year’s Day. We’ll stay in, maybe chat with family and friends and make a nice dinner for the two of us. Of course, I can always work on finding more receipts for the insurance claim.

That’s it for today, folks! Have a great day and evening, whatever you may do!

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, December 30, 3021:

This female warthog appears to have been injured by either a snare or a fence. For more photos, please click here.

Yesterday’s fantastic visit with a dear old friend…Quiet afternoon and early evening in the hotel while Tom was out…

This photo was taken on December 6, 2013, from Marloth Park. See the link here. The bright glare of the setting sun impeded our photo-taking of these elephants across the river. But, we were thrilled to get these. Soon, we’ll see elephants up close when we enter Kruger Park.

When Tom was meeting with his son TJ at a restaurant about 15 minutes away, I decided to see if I could change my planned visit to my dear friend Chere’s home in Eden Prairie. As much as we treasure time with friends, we have prioritized time with our children and grandchildren over all else.

Based on the time he and TJ were getting together, it didn’t leave time for him to pick me up when he’d be done. Nor did I want him to have to rush his time with his son to come to get me at Chere’s home. When I called and explained the situation to Chere, her husband Gary agreed to drop her off at our hotel. Chere recently had knee replacement surgery and hasn’t been cleared to drive.

By 1:30, she walked in the door, albeit a little shaky on her new knee, and we hugged as close girlfriends do. Instead of coming to our messy room with all of our recent purchases piled up, we sat in the lovely hotel lobby at a table with comfortable chairs and sipped on hot tea, and caught up.

It wasn’t as if we had much catching up to do when we’d last got together during our US visit in 2019 (but not when we were here, sick with Omicron last May). We’ve stayed in close touch over the years via text and email and knew what was going on with one another. Plus, Chere regularly reads our posts which easily fills in the blanks of what we’ve been up to.

Chere is a highly educated nutritionist and holistic dietician who has appeared on many local and national TV news stations over the years, as well as speaking as a keynote speaker at countless conventions on health, nutrition, and wellness, often sponsored by large corporations. It was as if we’d never been apart. I wanted more details about her life over the past few years.

There’s something magical about the skies over Africa from what we’ve seen so far in Kenya and now in South Africa, also from this date, nine years ago.

This passion we share for health, fitness, diet, and food brought us together years ago and remained a favorite topic as we share more intimate details of our lives, as girlfriends often do. It was delightful catching up with her. The almost three hours we spent together passed way too quickly.

Her husband Gary arrived to pick her up a few hours later but only after sitting with us for a while for more lively conversation. By the time they walked out the door after warm hugs and goodbyes, it was 4:30, and Tom had yet to return. But my delightful afternoon wasn’t over yet.

The lovely guest services representative, Kelly, at the hotel front desk, poured me a glass of Pinot Grigio, and another great conversation ensued, only occasionally interrupted when a hotel guest needed attention. Again, the discussion was lively and entertaining, and time flew by. Suddenly, it was close to 6:00 pm, and I headed back to our room. I was getting hungry and opened the meat and cheese tray in the little refrigerator for such an occasion.

A short time later, Tom returned, smiling over his enjoyable time with his son, and we decided to forego dinner. I’d eaten enough meat, cheese, and olives to hold me, and Tom said he had two generous portions of popcorn at the bar and wasn’t hungry. Also, we knew we could head to the included breakfast at this excellent hotel at 6:30 am, and we could easily wait for that.

Speaking of this hotel, Hyatt Place in Eden Prairie, we’ve decided to stay here each time we return to Minnesota. The only inconvenience is the lack of washers and dryers at the property. But everything else is superior to the other hotels where we’ve stayed in this central location. Their breakfast is good, the coffee is excellent, and the service is over-the-top.

The hotel had recently been remodeled and is attractive and modern, whereby the other hotels where we’ve stayed in this area in the past are somewhat dated. This seems to be a popular hotel for business people, with efficiency and competitive pricing the norm, typically at $118 a night, a real bargain for this suburban area. When we return in September, we will certainly stay here again.

Today is a quiet day. No family members were available to get together, so we will head to TJ Maxx to buy a suitcase for everything we purchased. We will also stop at the local CVS pharmacy for more of the sinus treatment product I’ve been using that I’d purchased at the pharmacy in Komatipoort. I hope they have something similar here since I’ll be running out by the time we depart. I don’t want to worry about heading to Komatipoort the day we return.

Otherwise, all is well. We’ll be dining out with Greg’s family tomorrow night on our final evening in Minnesota. We’ll head out for dinner since the cost of takeaway is as costly as dining in at some restaurants we like. We begin the long trek back to South Africa and Marloth Park on Thursday.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago, December 6, 2021:

A male impala is on the lookout in Kruger National Park. For more photos, please click here.

Sometimes I bite off more than I can chew…

We made two of these large pans of apple crisp and one smaller pan. We’ll bring one large pan to Kathy and Don’s tonight and keep one large and small pan at home.

Desserts are my favorite foods to make, although I don’t eat them. It’s not unlike me to volunteer to make certain dishes to share with others when I have accumulated so many amazing recipes over the years. There’s something special about making desserts that feels like love.

Lately, I’ve been making either blueberry or lemon poppyseed muffins for Tom, enough to last a week.  My desire to provide comfort food has been satisfied by making his muffins. No, I don’t encourage Tom to eat sweet treats, but when he was buying muffins in the market, at least I knew my homemade muffins didn’t have preservatives and chemicals. Making them myself assured they had quality ingredients, with no trans fats and bad sources of oil or butter. Only he can decide when he’s ready to give them up.

In South Africa, bringing our meat to braai and drinks is traditional. It is more the norm than not. We appreciate this tradition since we enjoy bringing our preferred cuts of meat when Tom and I eat larger-sized portions of protein than most.

Because I eat such little variety, meat and salad may be the only items I’ll eat at a host’s home. Tonight, we’re bringing beef tenderloin, cut into appropriate portions for Tom and me. Kathy and Don will serve baked potatoes, salad, and sweet corn. This way, our hosts can spend time with all of us instead of working in the kitchen.

A few days ago, expecting the dry socket to be totally better by now, which it is not, I volunteered to bring homemade gluten-free apple crisp, a dessert we’ve found many enjoy, especially when topped with vanilla ice cream, which we’re also bringing. Little did I know at the time that I would still be under the weather due to the ongoing pain, although greatly diminished, and off pain killers would be an issue.

So, upon awakening this morning after sleeping for nearly 10 hours, according to my FitBit, I still felt sluggish, and the socket was still sore. I’d hoped by today, it would be over. This painful scenario has left me feeling out of sorts, especially after spending several days lying on the bed, propped up on pillows, on narcotic pain pills, which I’ve since stopped. I feel weak from lack of activity and the horrible drugs.

Last night, we went to Jabula with Rita and Gerhard, but we were home before 8:30 pm (2030 hrs). We watched an episode of Big Brother, and I dozed off to sleep. When I awoke at 9:00 am, I thought, “Wow! I am going to feel great after this long night’s sleep!”

But, once up, showered, and dressed, I wondered how I’d manage to make the apple crisp still feeling unlike myself. As always, Tom helped peel the zillions of apples. I wanted to make a big pan to bring tonight and another big pan to have at home. This resulted in peeling, coring, and slicing over 40 apples.

Prepping a little more than we needed, I had a third extra smaller pan than we required, surely Tom will finish it off in no time. We gave all the scraps to the bushbucks and kudus, including Bad Eye. They all loved them. Bad Eye, although not treated for her injury, seems to be doing better. The bleeding has stopped, and it looks as if, at some point, it will heal. She still has a good appetite, devouring the apple scraps with her three female friends/family members.

By noon, I had the first of the three pans of apple crisp in the oven. The small oven only fits one pan at a time. It’s hot today, and the oven will most likely be on for about three hours to thoroughly cook the three pans. It’s already pretty hot in the house, so once I put the first pan in the oven, I came into the bedroom to sit on the bed with the fan on to cool off and recover from standing on my feet for 2½ hours. Surely, later on, I’ll perk up.

We aren’t expected to arrive at Kathy and Don’s house until 5:30 pm (1730),  leaving plenty of time to finish baking and get dressed and ready for tonight. There will be eight of us at their home for dinner. I doubt I bit off more than I could chew making this multi-step dessert, but now that they are baking, I’m relieved to have it done and out of the way.

Nothing more is required of me today other than completing and uploading today’s post. I’ll have plenty of time to chill out, work on more corrections and enjoy jumping up every so often to welcome visitors to the garden until it’s time to get ready to go.

Have a pleasant day and evening!

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

This photo was posted one year ago in lockown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #186. A few zebras meandered down the hill to the water, but mom didn’t seem concerned. Giraffes and zebras seem to blend well in the wild. For more photos, please click here.

WiFi was out…Late posting…Great time at Frikkee’s Dam…

Three kudus near the braai area at Frikkee’s Dam in Lionspruit.

When the WiFi is out in the house/area, the only way we can post is using the Google Fi data on my phone or using the phone as a hotspot to connect my laptop. In both cases, the cost is high, making posting for the day too costly when I’d be using data during the several hours necessary to complete the day’s story.

Miracle of all miracles, the WiFi was restored a few hours later, and now we can post as usual. As we’ve mentioned many times, “This is Africa,” and the infrastructure is unstable and unpredictable. It’s a factor that everyone who lives here must accept as a fact of life.

This kudu jumped over the fence to join us.

So, now that we’re able to post today, we’re pleased to be able to post photos from yesterday’s enjoyable party at Frikkee’s Dam, located inside Lionspruit, located within the borders of Marloth Park. We hadn’t been to Frikkee’s Dam since we arrived here in January but had during our past visits several occasions.

It’s a private gathering of a group of us that have attended over the years. Everyone brings food to share, potluck-style. We made our usual Brunch Eggs that were a big hit, with only a small amount left to get home. Since it had sat out all day, we decided not to eat the leftovers but instead feed them to the mongoose, who are carnivores, and the meat, egg, and cheese dish was a treat for them this morning.

Two curious kudus were checking out the humans. We didn’t bring along any pellets!

It was funny when Tom tossed out bite-sized pieces this morning, when Peter, Paul, and Mary competed with the mongoose for the leftovers. Generally, pigs only eat vegetation. But, on occasion, they show interest in bones and certain types of meat. There was bacon in the Brunch Eggs. We wondered how they enjoyed eating bacon, pigs that they are!

The time spent from 11;30 am until 5:30 pm when we finally packed up our stuff and left, was delightful every moment. The conversations were interesting and varied, and it was easy to join into any robust chatter at any point. It was fun to see people we hadn’t seen since the last time we attended a gathering at Frikkee’s Dam, back in 2018.

Another kudu is at the edge of the lake, looking our way.

It was interesting to hear varying views of Covid-19 and the vaccine. Some in our group didn’t believe the vaccine was safe, and it was fascinating to listen to their viewpoint. Most of the attendees were already vaccinated, but a few were not due to age or preference. But the conversation was always civilized and considerate, accepting one another’s opinions.

The Friskkee’s Dam braai area had been renovated in the past few years, providing a cleaner, more friendly space for a braai. We all enjoyed the new setting, which was easier to walk about with less awful tree roots causing tripping hazards in the past. Plus, the fence was lowered, and it was easier to see wildlife drinking from the lake while we stayed safely behind the fence.,

Tom took this photo of a bird with an orange head. Any ideas what bird this may be?

Back at our house (since we’d eaten very little at the event), we cooked a light meal of a few hamburgers (no buns) topped with cheddar cheese along with a small salad for me. We streamed a few episodes of a good show we’ve been watching on Hulu, Big Sky, finishing up season one’s episodes. Season two will begin in the latter part of September.

It was a busy morning in the garden. We were swamped, tending to the needs of our visitors. We had eight bushbucks, seven kudus, two duikers, 20+ mongooses, and as Tom said, a _ _ _ _ load of pigs. Of course, Frank and The Misses stopped by a few times, with the four Go-Away birds carrying on noisily in the background. Little was often seen hovering nearby, partaking in any morsels he could garner in the process.

Giraffe drinking from the lake with another looking on.

Rita and Gerhard have returned from their road trip to the Drakensburg Mountains, and today at 1530 hours, 3:30 pm, they will pick us up to head to Buckler’s Africa Lodge to watch the sunset, the Crocodile River for wildlife sightings, all followed up by dinner on their veranda. It will be excellent to see them again after almost two weeks since they left.

Have a lovely day!

Photo from one year ago today, August 30, 2020:

One year ago, this photo was posted in lockdown in Mumbai, India, on day #159. This was the shortest (height) car either of us has ever seen, spotted in youth Kensington, England, in 2014. I can only imagine that getting out of it would require rolling out the door onto the street and then standing up. For more, please click here.

First of many fantastic evenings with friends in the bush!!!…No bag yet…

Don and Rita were toasting the occasion.

Last night, it was cold and dark on the veranda at Jabula Lodge and Restaurant, but the seven of us weren’t hindered at all by the weather. The food and service, as always, were superb, and the companionship was over the top. Finally, Kathy and I were together once again and well as my friend Rita.

The three of us girls sat at one end of the table, and the boys, Tom, Don, Gerhard, and their friend from Germany, Achim, came to visit them for a few weeks. It was a celebration of Gerhard’s birthday. He doesn’t care for cake, but Dawn and Lyn have decorated the table for the occasion.

Our gift to Gerhard? Four bales of prepaid Lucerne from Daisy’s Den, to be delivered whenever he and Rita decide.  On Wednesday, we stopped to purchase the bales, seeds for Frank and The Misses, hornbills, and a big bag of sweet potatoes for the wildlife. We included the receipt for the Lucerne in the birthday card with a note explaining the gift, included with Daisy’s Den’s business card, making the ordering as easy as a quick phone call.

Now, as I type this, we hear the funny little chirping of the mongoose who’ve arrived in a small band. Tom raced indoors to get his leftover rib bones from last night’s dinner. Mongooses are carnivores, and they like bones, but hilariously, they try to crack them open on big rocks in an attempt to get to the marrow. It’s rather funny to watch.

Tom, Gerhard, and Achim to the right. Happy birthday, Gerhard!

As for last night’s get-together, the conversation was delightful among the group as a whole and in the male and female groups. We had so much catching up to do after being gone for four weeks. It was wonderful to be back with our friends once again.

Kathy and Don are hosting a goodbye get-together this upcoming Wednesday at their riverfront bush home. We’re bringing our meat, the dessert; apple crisp served warm, topped with vanilla ice cream. Rita’s bringing the salad, and Kathy and Don will host the side dishes.  We all bring our beverages, making hosting a dinner party so much easier when planned this way.

Kathy and Don each ordered the jumbo prawns.

Today, another cool day with sunshine that will hopefully warm the day soon, we’ll stay in. I have to get back to work on post corrections which I’ve ignored for the past week. This morning upon arising very early, I got to work organizing things around the house.

Before we’d left, I filled a large tote with items I’d planned to go through once we returned, mostly old clothes I had to consider giving the heave-ho. It felt good to empty this huge container and make the proper decisions about replacing old worn-out items. Also, I did three more loads of laundry, hung them on the clothes rack, and started chopping and dicing for tonight’s dinner, homemade taco salad.

This is Gerhards’ eisbein, a huge pork knuckle.

Since those flat little taco seasoning packets contain wheat and tons of chemicals, I found a good low-carb recipe for taco seasoning. It took only five minutes to measure and put together the various spices and shake them until blended. Soon, I’ll cook the big package of mince (90% hamburger meat) in a large pot atop the stove, adding the spices after the meat is cooked and drained.

While we were in the US, both enjoyed taco salads, which aren’t necessarily available in South Africa, other than in big cities like Johannesburg or Cape Town. When making these salads, we don’t use prepackaged grated cheese, which also is infused with chemicals. Here’s an article on why pre-shredded grated cheese is not worth eating.

Now, I have to finish working on dinner and then get to work on corrections. In the meantime, I’m on hold with United Airlines for the 10th time to find out where our bag is and when it will be delivered since it didn’t arrive yesterday as promised. It’s frustrating.

We’ll be back with more tomorrow! Have a pleasant Saturday!

Photo from one year ago today, July 31, 2020:

From the year-ago post while in lockdown in Mumbai, India, on day #130.A surprising close-up of what appeared to be a blue stalk from afar. For more, please click here.