A holiday in the US will be celebrated next Thursday on the day we depart…Baking on a hot day with load shedding…

Tom likes these low-carb blueberry almond flour scones. We freeze them, and he takes one each day to defrost quickly.

We knew that our departure date to travel to Seychelles was on the Thanksgiving holiday celebrated in the US on November 24, 2022. Thank goodness we aren’t flying to the US since flights will be overbooked. Some Americans may sail with us on the cruise through the islands, and perhaps some may have chosen to travel on this particular holiday when they had a few extra days off work. We shall see soon enough.

In our old lives for many years, Thanksgiving was a big holiday for us. It was a busy time with many family traditions surrounding this holiday and Christmas. Over the years, three of our four children had children of their own, after which those family dinner celebrations at our house occurred less and less often as our kids began to create their traditions. By the time we left in 2012 for our world travels, holidays had become less significant to us.

Once we were on our way, we decided not to celebrate US holidays as we had in our old lives. We observe the significance and spirituality of certain holidays, but we don’t create a series of events and celebrations surrounding them. On a few occasions, while here in Marloth Park, we have celebrated Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year with local friends.

I made this low-carb macadamia nut flour bread. It’s a little dry compared to other bread I’ve made. My favorite is made with moist coconut flour. I will cut this up into slices and freeze them, using two thin slices daily for my avocado and egg toast.

But, when in a country. Where we don’t necessarily have many friends, the most we may do is go out for a nice meal at a local restaurant, not necessarily ordering food catering to the traditions of the specific holiday. We are OK with this.

As for birthdays, we’ll be celebrating my 75th birthday this coming February at a bush party. Coincidentally, Tom’s 70th birthday is on December 23. Unfortunately, his birthday is so close to Christmas that gathering enough guests for a party isn’t easy. We’ll do something special that evening, even if it’s only dinner at Jabula with a few friends.

Many of our friends are gone during December to their homes in other countries, and they also prefer to be gone in the hot summer months in the bush due to the heat, humidity, insects, and snakes. We sure understand this. However, this will be the fourth year we’ve celebrated Tom’s birthday and Christmas in the bush.

Another dung beetle and his wife rolled around the garden next to a pellet for size reference.

Also, we decided some time ago not to purchase gifts for one another when we have no room in our luggage, nor is there anything that we would particularly enjoy that is available nearby or online. Postal service is limited, and as we’ve repeatedly mentioned, sending items via UPS, FedEx or DHL is time-consuming, costly, and problematic.

On the few occasions we’ve cooked for Thanksgiving, we haven’t been able to find turkeys or pumpkin pie filling. Our friend Kathy found some small turkeys in Johannesburg or Nelspruit over the past several years, and she brought cans of pumpkin pie filling from the US for the pies. I’d purchased several tins of pumpkin pie spices in the US and brought them here. But traveling with food is nonsensical regularly.

Most likely, I have written about this topic in prior posts. But, after over 3700 posts, it’s difficult not to be repetitive. We only hope that our new readers coming on board may not have read about these topics in the past. The same thing applies to our photos. On occasions, we post a past photo more than once. Most often, we mention this. But the photos we generally post each day are new and have never been published in the past.

Tulip and Lilac have been coming to our garden since Lilac was very tiny. She’s growing fast, but they still hang out together, most likely until Tuplip is pregnant again, when Lilac may be on her own.

Speaking of which, we realize our posts are repetitive in many ways, but as mentioned above, it’s nearly impossible not to be so after writing daily for the past ten years. Let’s face it, life is repetitive, no matter how hard we may strive for unique and exciting experiences. Amid this reality, we attempt to mix it up as much as we can.

Now that load shedding ended one of its four outages today; I am baking a new loaf of my low-carb bread which I use to make avocado and egg toast each morning, a healthy start to each day. Tom doesn’t care for the taste, so I bake other low-carb treats.

It’s time to go to the outdoor laundry room to collect the first two batches to hang on the outdoor rack that Tom always sets up on the veranda when I wash twice a week. Tonight, we’re off to Jabula for dinner and to see Leon and Dawn after their time away to see his oncologist and spend a few restful nights in Nelspruit. They certainly deserve this short break.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, November 18, 2021:

It was a thrill to see this adorable dark impala at the entrance to the airport. For more photos, please click here.

Day #248 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Happy Thanksgiving to family, friends and readers in the US….

No photos from a previous post are included today, other than the “year-ago” photo below.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of our American family, friends, and readers who are celebrating this special day of thanks. For our non-American readers/friends, here’s what Thanksgiving is all about:

From this site: Thanksgiving is a national holiday celebrated on various dates in the United States, Canada, Brazil, Grenada, Saint Lucia, and Liberia, and the sub-national entities LeidenNorfolk Island, and the inhabited territories of the United States. It began as a day of giving thanks and sacrifice for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year. It has similarly named festival holidays to occur in Germany and Japan. Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday of October in Canada and on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States and Brazil, and around the same part of the year in other places. Although Thanksgiving has historical roots in religious and cultural traditions, it has long been celebrated as a secular holiday.

Prayers of thanks and special thanksgiving ceremonies are common among almost all religions after harvests and other times. The Thanksgiving holiday’s history in North America is rooted in English traditions dating from the Protestant Reformation. It also has aspects of a harvest festival, even though the harvest in New England occurs well before the late-November date on which the modern Thanksgiving holiday is celebrated.

In the English tradition, days of thanksgiving and special thanksgiving religious services became important during the English Reformation in the reign of Henry VIII and reaction to a large number of religious holidays on the Catholic calendar. Before 1536 there were 95 Church holidays, plus 52 Sundays when people were required to attend church, forego work, and sometimes pay for expensive celebrations. The 1536 reforms reduced the number of Church holidays to 27, but some Puritans wished to eliminate all Church holidays, including Christmas and Easter. The holidays were to be replaced by specially called Days of Fasting or Days of Thanksgiving, in response to events that the Puritans viewed as acts of special providence. Unexpected disasters or threats of judgment from on high called for Days of Fasting. Special blessings, viewed as coming from God, called for Days of Thanksgiving. For example, Days of Fasting were called on account of drought in 1611, floods in 1613, and plagues in 1604 and 1622. Days of Thanksgiving were called following the victory over the Spanish Armada in 1588 and following the deliverance of Queen Anne in 1705. An unusual annual Day of Thanksgiving began in 1606 following the failure of the Gunpowder Plot in 1605 and developed into Guy Fawkes Day on November 5.”

In our old lives, this holiday had always been the second most important holiday we celebrated each year, with Christmas being the first. The days of loved ones gathered around our big table are long gone. But, we’ll never forget the love, warmth, and good food on this memorable holiday.

I’d cook for days, making enough pumpkin pies and “leftovers” for each couple or attendee to return home with at least one enough food for another meal and an entire pie as a reminder of our Thanksgiving celebration.

But, today, with COVID-19 rampant throughout the US and the world, this year’s holidays will be very different. With tremendous controversy over how many should attend a private home celebration, with restaurants closed and many observing COVID-19 precautions or not, this is a difficult time for all.

In touching base with our family and friends, we feel comfortable everyone will be practicing safe standards in their homes and outside their homes. Nothing would be sadder than to discover more family members who have contracted the virus during the holiday season or at any time in the future. We pray for our family members and friends, as well as for yours, to come through the holiday season unscathed.

And for us? Many have inquired about what we’ll do today, which is already midday Thursday, November 26th in India. Not to sound as if we are feeling sorry for ourselves, we are doing nothing. Turkey is not served here. No special foods are being prepared, and if they were, I doubt many would be befitting my way of eating.

I must diligently continue with my recent reduction in carbs to nearly zero each day, which has allowed several significant health improvements over the past month. Thus, if a special dinner were offered, I would only eat the turkey. Plus, Indian cooks wouldn’t be familiar with preparing the typical American dishes, even if we chose to eat such a meal.

Tom is still working on reducing the weight he gained in the first several months of lockdown and continues to eat only one meal a day, a big breakfast that holds him through the day. So, unless we’d been able to prepare it ourselves, a special meal means little to us at this point.

Instead, we’ll focus on what we are thankful for on this day, as we often do during this challenging time in a hotel room.

We are thankful for:

  • The safety and health of our loved ones and for us, while we maintain the status quo in this confinement now, eight months in the making.
  • I am being together to provide love, comfort, and entertainment for each other, every single day.
  • Our health during this lockdown. We were concerned that it would have been an awful scenario if one of us became ill and had to seek medical care outside the hotel, with COVID-19 raging in Mumbai.
  • Ways in which to entertain ourselves with streaming shows, with good WiFi, and thanks to a VPN (a virtual private network) that allows us to use Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu. Being able to escape from the current reality mentally has been exceedingly crucial during this extended period.
  • Financially, we have been able to afford to live in this lovely hotel for the past 248 days.
  • That this hotel has stayed open during numerous lockdowns.
  • Due to Amazon India, we can purchase any supplies we need. Without this, we’d have no choice but to head outdoors, where massive crowds are in the streets.
  • I was reordering my few prescriptions. The front desk will call and order any refills for medications we may need, and it is delivered within 24 hours, without a prescription.
  • We are posting each day and all the significant concerns and support of our family/friends/readers. Thank you all!
  • Laughter, our saving grace…

Please have a safe and meaningful Thanksgiving for those who celebrate, and may every one of our readers experience love and thankfulness on this day and always, wherever you may be.

Photo from one year ago today, November 26, 2019:

With no new photos posted one year ago, we posted a photo from a walk on the beach at the Indian Ocean in Kenya in 2013. For more, please click here.

Day #240 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…2018 Thanksgiving menu and photos…

Thanksgiving dinner on the veranda with friends.

Today’s photos are from this date in 2018 while living in the bush in Marloth Park and celebrating Thanksgiving at our holiday home. See our menu below and photos of some of the dishes. For more, please click here.

When we decided to host the US holiday, Thanksgiving, on this date in 2018, we insisted that none of the guests bring food, instead only bringing their favorite wine or beverages which is typical in South Africa when visiting friends. Our big table was set for the 12 of us, on the veranda overlooking the garden with hopefully visiting wildlife, .

From left to right around the table: Kathy, Janet, Steve, Don, Louise, Danie, Leon, Dawn, Uschi, Evan while Tom and I shared the end of the table.  Total in attendance: 12.

Here is the menu from that day:


Thanksgiving Dinner in the Bush

Sundowners with Light Snacks

Roasted chickens

Stuffing with Sausage, Mushrooms, Onions

Mashed Potatoes with Creamy Gravy

Buttery Mashed Cauliflower

Sweet Potatoes with Fresh Pineapple and Cinnamon

Broccoli Salad with Crunchy Almonds and Sultanas

Green Bean Casserole with Crispy Onion Rings

Cranberry Sauce

Homemade dinner rolls

Pumpkin Pies

Whipped Cream Topping, if desired

It was outrageously hot as high as 40C, 104F on the previous day when I was attempting to make eight pumpkin pies. The heat and humidity were so high, I had the worst time ever in my life rolling the dough for the crusts, a task I usually accomplished with ease.

On the right, Evan, Uschi, Dawn, and Leon.

The end result was tasty pumpkin pies, but they weren’t as pretty as I would have liked. In our usual manner, we sent every couple home with their own pumpkin pie, serving the extra pie we’d made for that meal’s dessert. For the dinner, since turkeys of any size aren’t available in South Africa, we included one stuffed chicken per couple.

Dawn and Leon brought styrofoam, to-go containers from their wonderful restaurant, Jabula Lodge & Restaurant enabling us each couple to take home their leftover chicken and portions of the accompanying traditional side dishes, some of which are shown in the photos.

Each couple got their own roast stuffed chicken. We were having such fun, I left these three chickens in the oven a little too long, burning the bottom of the pan but the chickens were moist and delicious. We’d make three extra chickens, just in case, and kept these for us.

In our old lives, we’d always done this on Thanksgiving, sending family and friends home with a whole pie and leftovers, knowing part of the fun of this particular holiday includes savoring the traditional leftovers. Of course, that night we saved a container for ourselves, which we enjoyed over the next few dinners, as well.

Besides the food, the company was some of our closest friends in Marloth Park, all of whom we hope to see again when we return sometime in the future,  When that day will come is still a total mystery to us as we continue to read and watch news reports daily.

On the left, a pan of extra stuffing, in the center, sweet potatoes (they are light-colored in South Africa, not orange).

With Diwali winding down, the noisy group next door to our room, keeping us awake until 5:00 am with their loud voices and drawer banging, has finally checked out. Yesterday, while heading out on our walk, we were appalled to see their hotel room door open to one of the biggest messes we’ve ever seen in a hotel room. There was trash everywhere.

We felt bad for the housekeeper who had to clean up that mess, but as always, the kind worker went about her work with a smile on her face, as is common among the staff here. Well, I couldn’t exactly see the smile on her face with her mask on, but I could tell she was smiling from the crinkle around her eyes.

Low carb mashed cauliflower.

Isn’t that something? With those of us wearing face masks, it’s hard to tell who is smiling and who is frowning. But, it’s better to wear a mask than to be able to see the expression on a person’s face during these challenging times.

In any case, Thanksgiving will be celebrated on November 26th this year. The actual date of Thanksgiving may change from year to year, but it’s always on the last Thursday in November, resulting in a four-day weekend for many workers. It was during that weekend in our old lives, that I always decorated the house for Christmas, spending the full remaining three days getting it accomplished.

Traditional green bean casserole. Kathy brought the fried onions back from the US! Thanks, Kathy!

Those days are long gone. Oh well, this year, Thanksgiving, will be chicken, of course here in India. As always, but there will be no celebrations, no pie for Tom, no cooking, and no gathering of family and friends. From what we’re seeing on the news, this may be the case for many Americans this year, due to COVID-19 and its government-mandated limitations on numbers allowed to gather to celebrate.

Today? The usual. The usual. And, more of the usual!

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, November 18, 2019:

One year ago, this 5-year-old photo was posted on this date. Tom got a kick out of this old Ford “woody” that was on display at the Maui Tropical Plantation. For more of the story, one year ago, please click here.

On the upswing…

Five years ago today, Tom got a kick out of this old Ford “woody” that was on display at the Maui Tropical Plantation. For more photos, please click here.

We had hoped to stay here through Thanksgiving and possibly Christmas to help Camille and Greg while going through chemo. Unfortunately, my severe allergy to cats (and they have one, Morty) has made it impossible for me to be at their home for very long, especially since I got this dreadful “cruise cough,” yet to be resolved.

I’m hopeful today when last night I was able to sleep for about seven hours for the first time since our arrival ten days ago. I awoke five hours after taking Nyquil Cough, planning to stay awake another hour for another dose which can be repeated every six hours.  Miraculously, I fell back to sleep while waiting for the hour to pass.

The cough is a little better today, three days after the initial doses of cortisone and antibiotics, obviously both of which I needed. I’m hoping by the time we leave Minnesota in 10 days, this cough will be gone.

Today for several hours, we have some quiet time. Tom doesn’t have to leave until 3:15 pm to pick up Vincent for this afternoon’s planned activities, including a visit to a pinball place where they’ll most certainly have a good time. 

This afternoon, my long-time dear friend Chere, a highly successful motivational speaker, is stopping by around 3:30 to visit for a few hours. Chere and I have stayed in close touch all these years of world travel. I’m looking forward to seeing her.

With limitations on our time, we won’t have an opportunity to see many of our friends this time. We’re doing the best we can during this short three-week stay.

A short while ago, Tom got a call from his sister Colleen that their sister Betty 
(a nun) had gone into the hospital overnight in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for an unknown reason. Sister Beth had come here last week to see us. Due to my busy schedule, I was disappointed I never had a chance to see her. However, Tom spent time with her.

This morning, Tom called the convent to ascertain which hospital she was in and possibly receive information on her condition. He’s awaiting a callback. Once he hears, he’ll provide the remainder of the family with an update of her condition, based on how much information he can get from the hospital or if she’s able to talk from her.

The remaining ten days here in Minnesota will be busy. Tomorrow, Greg and I will go to lunch at his favorite Vietnamese restaurant in Uptown. On Wednesday, Camille and I go shopping for Christmas gifts for the kids. I’ve agreed to help her wrap packages but bring them back to Karen’s house when I can no longer spend much time near the cat.

Wednesday night, we’re taking Karen and Rich out to dinner at Gianni’s Restaurant in Wayzata, a favorite place from our old life with many romantic memories. This will be their first time dining there, and we can only hope it will be as wonderful as it was years ago.

And it goes on and on with many things planned in the next ten days. On Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, I’m going to a cardiac check-up at the Minnesota Heart Institute. I’d like to have this out of the way before we head to India. We’re praying for a good result that my progression has been good, and for now, I’m out of the woods. Of course, we’ll report the results here.

Soon, I’ll take off for the market. We need a few items, and it will be fun for me to wander through a US grocery store on my own leisurely.

Please stay healthy and happy as we roll into the holiday season in the USA.

Photo from one year ago today, November 18, 2018:

From left to right around the table:  Kathy, Janet, Steve, Don, Louise, Danie, Leon, Dawn, Uschi, Evan, while Tom and I shared the end of the table. Total in attendance: 12. For more photos, please click here.

Oh, what a night!!!…Thanksgiving nirvana…See our menu at the end of the post…

From left to right around the table:  Kathy, Janet, Steve, Don, Louise, Danie, Leon, Dawn, Uchi, Evan while Tom and I shared the end of the table. Total in attendance: 12.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Good-sized turtle crossing the road at quite a pace.

It was definitely a night to remember. Marloth Park friends, all who love the bush and its wildlife, enjoyed a Thanksgiving meal for the first time, except for Americans Kathy and Don.

Thanksgiving dinner on the veranda with friends.

Tom and I worked hard in the heat for two full days to get it all pulled together. No doubt, I did the bulk of the cooking but he washes the cooking dishes; peeled two types of potatoes; helped with the pies; the veranda setup and so much more. We’re quite a team at times like this.

The wine and cocktails flowed along with the lively conversation.

I can’t recall the last time we did a dinner for 12. Surely, it was in our old lives sometime in 2012 before we left Minnesota on October 31st. I’d forgotten how much work it is but the joy of sharing food, wine and conversation with great friends made it all worth it.

On the right, Evan, Uschi, Dawn and Leon.

Fortunately, everything came out well, although, at the last minute with a few items to reheat in the new microwave, we couldn’t get it to work. With time running out to meet the 1930 hrs (7:30 pm) goal of sitting down to eat, I improvised and reheated the items on the stove and all was fine.

We were only off the dining time by 10 minutes. It was wonderful to finally sit down and enjoy the enthusiasm of our guests over the unique flavors of the foods.

Each couple got their own roast stuffed chicken.

We’d given each couple an entire stuffed chicken with the many side dishes. After dinner, with all the leftovers still on the countertop, we handed each couple two takeaway containers to fill with their leftover chicken and any sides they wanted to take home for Sunday’s lunch or dinner.

It was fun and playful to see everyone partake in filling their takeaway containers (brought to us from Jabula by Dawn and Leon). It reminded us of the many years we did the same with our family…take home leftovers and a pie.

Homemade cranberry sauce.

The full-sized pumpkin pies were lined up on the pool table ready for them to load up to take home along with their containers. We served a separate larger pie after the meal so each couple could take home a complete full-sized pie. We served whipped cream in the can with the pies.

It was hard for me not to take a taste of everything not only to ensure it all tasted good but, let’s face it, my resolve faded for the night and I actually ate a few items I’d never eat under normal circumstances. At the end of the evening, I even went as far as having a small piece of the regular pumpkin pie.

On the left, a pan of extra stuffing, in the center, sweet potatoes (they are light colored here, not orange).

Today, with no leftover chicken but plenty of all the other sides, we’ll be roasting a “flattie” chicken, chicken livers and a couple of bone-in chicken breasts. This will allow us to have full meals for the next few night’s dinners. I don’t feel like cooking for a few days.

Of course, today, I’m back to my healthy way of eating and will only have chicken, lettuce salad and steamed spinach for tonight’s dinner while Tom will tackle the stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole and the homemade dinner rolls (he sure loves these!).  He’ll have pie for dessert and I’ve promised myself I will abstain.  

More stuffing.

Oh my gosh, there were so many dishes. But, leave it to Louise to have arranged for Vusi to come this morning to do the dishes, clean the house and the veranda, putting everything back to its usual tidy and clean state.  

Tom had a hard time leaving the dishes overnight. We always totally clean up after dinner. But, after the two days of 40C (102F) temps and how busy we’d been, he loaded the dishwasher twice after awakening at 5:30 am this morning, lightening the work for Vusi.

Low carb mashed cauliflower.

This morning, I washed all the linen napkins, cleaned the countertops, did two loads of laundry and organized the refrigerator.  All we have to do for the rest of today is to make a salad and vegetables, cook the new chicken and have another excellent evening on the veranda. A nap may be on the agenda since we didn’t get to bed until 1:30 am and both were awake before 5:00 am.

Last night, we had several visitors in the garden but were so preoccupied with our guests we didn’t pay as much attention to them as usual. Tusker made an appearance along with our favorite warthog pair, two males, glued at the hip, Sigfreid and Roy. We can’t tell them apart since they look identical (must be brothers) so we call each of them “Siegfreid and Roy.” They both respond and did so last night during the party. 

Traditional green bean casserole.  Kathy brought the fried onions back from the US!  Thanks, Kathy!

On Friday night when we returned from Jabula, they were both cuddled up in the garden fast asleep. They perked up when we arrived but waited patiently to see if we’d offer some pellets.  Of course, we did as we will again tonight.

As promised, here’s last night’s Thanksgiving dinner menu which we’d decorated and printed a copy of the menu for each couple to review in order to pace themselves:

Thanksgiving Dinner in the Bush
Sundowners with Light Snacks
Roasted chickens
Stuffing with Sausage, Mushrooms, Onions
Mashed Potatoes with Creamy Gravy
Buttery Mashed Cauliflower
Sweet Potatoes with Fresh Pineapple and Cinnamon
Broccoli Salad with Crunchy Almonds and Sultanas
Green Bean Casserole with Crispy Onion Rings
Cranberry Sauce
Homemade dinner rolls
Pumpkin Pies
Whipped Cream Topping, if desired

Have a superb day!

Photo from one year ago today, November 18, 2017:

A fluffed up version on an unknown bird Tom captured in Costa Rica. For more details details, please click here.

Yesterday’s pumpkin pie hell!….Thanksgiving celebration today…Pie photo below…

There is nothing that makes me laugh more…”Little” swimming in the cement pond!

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Bottlebrush flowers, along with others have begun to bloom in the park.

To name yesterday’s making and baking of eight pumpkin pies, “pumpkin pie hell” is putting it lightly. The temp was as high as 40C (102F) for most of the day and one thing after another went wrong in making the pies.

Egyptian goose standing in shallow water at the river.

First, I must preface, I haven’t made a pumpkin pie since 2011, for our last Thanksgiving dinner in the US (except for last week’s “test pie”). I didn’t have the proper kitchen equipment to make the beautiful-looking pies I’d always made in the past.

In our old lives, we had 14 deep dish Pyrex glass pie pans which I’d collected over a number of years. But, when sending family and friends home with their individual pie, I warned them if they didn’t return the glass pie pan, there’d be no “pie for them” in the future. This worked.

Big Daddies, sharing pellets with each other and the zebras.

Since it makes no sense for us to invest in bakeware, instead we purchased the only pie pans we could find, the tin foil disposable variety. I’d never made a pumpkin pie in one of these except for a few low-carb cheesecakes a few months ago which didn’t present a problem.

The other issue was the Spar market ran out of frozen pumpkin, the only source available. We’d purchased all they had the prior week and they promised more would arrive this past week. Didn’t happen. This is Africa, after all. We get it.  

A very muddy cape buffalo.

We tried a few other markets to no avail. Pumpkin isn’t readily available in South Africa.  Why would it be?  Pumpkin pie is a US thing and it’s not as if there are lots of Americans around here, making Thanksgiving dinner.  

As a matter of fact, the only Americans we know or even talked to in the past nine months are friends Kathy and Don and long-term US residents Rita and Gerhard.

A big male lion a few days ago.

I decided to cook all the frozen pumpkin we had, measure the number of cups, figuring .41 liters (14 oz) per pie. Fortunately, I had a one-cup measure on hand and calculated I could make a total of eight pies. We needed one for each of the other couples (four pies), two to serve after the meal, and two leftovers for Tom. Whew! That part worked out.

But, what a messy operation measuring from a big plastic container filled with mashed pumpkin. Next was the making of the pies. Having no experience with tin foil pie pans, I made all the pie crusts from scratch, eight of them, one at a time, rolled the dough with a giant rolling pin Louise loaned me, and prepared each of the crusts in the tin foil pans.

I believe this is an orange-breasted bush shrike.  Please correct me if I’m wrong.

Well, let’s get back to the weather for a moment. It was a hot 40C (102F) and the pie crust dough was tricky to handle and get into each of the pie tins. Plus, the usually easy part of neatly crimping the edges of the pie crust became nearly impossible. I did the best I could.

Cape buffalo faces.

Once the crusts were prepared I lined them all on the counter and carefully and evenly filled each of the prepared pie crusts with the typically runny pumpkin pie filling I’d made. The problem was when we attempted to lift the filled pies off the countertop to put them into the oven, the flimsy pie tins caused the liquid the spill out.

Mom and baby at the river’s edge.

With Tom helping, with his frustration level as high as the temperature, he devised a transfer system where we could add extras tins to the bottom of the pies, to increase the stability of the pan.  From there, it was a slow and laborious process, I spilled several cups of the filling as a result of my usual clumsiness.

The oven cooks unevenly and without the metal crust edge protectors I usually used, the pie crust edges are uneven and overcooked in parts. But, that’s the way it is in this life, a lack of perfection but an abundance of joyfulness. Not a bad trade-off, eh?

Here are my eight less-than-perfect pumpkin pies for tonight’s Thanksgiving dinner. The pit in the bottom right is low carb with an almond flour crust for Louise and Danie. They also loaned us the collection of serving pieces which will surely come to good use tonight.

Here is the photo of my pies, less than pretty, but hopefully will taste as good as the test pie a few days ago.  We’ll be back tomorrow with more food photos from our “Thanksgiving Dinner in the Bush.”

Here is the giant rolling pin I borrowed from Louise and Danie, previously used for rolling pizza crusts. It’s weighted and very heavy, ideal for rolling pie crusts.  Also, in this photo are the takeaway containers Dawn and Leon provided, who’ll join us tonight, from Jabula Lodge & Restaurant where we had another fantastic dinner last night.

Have a fabulous weekend!

Photo from one year ago today, November 17, 2017:

Tom Lyman, you never cease to amaze me!  What a shot of the classic “Froot Loops” cereal (per Tom) Toucan, technically known as the Rainbow-billed Toucan, aka the Keel-billed Toucan (different than the Toucan in our previous post with the Fiery-billed Aracari Toucan as shown here) taken in our yard in Atenas, Costa Rica. For more photos, please click here.

Day 24…Circumnaviagting the Australian continent…What is the meaning of the Thanksgiving holiday in the US?…More Adelaide photos…

Tom, sitting on the train. He hasn’t gained weight on this cruising forgoing cereals, bread, rolls, donuts, and buns.

“Sighting on the Ship in Australia”

Art work in the ship’s gallery.

The Thanksgiving holiday is celebrated in the US is in two days. For those outside the US who may not know the significance of Thanksgiving, it is a very special day of celebration for the following reasons as described on this site:

Meaning of Thanksgiving – The Real Celebration
For many of us, the meaning of Thanksgiving usually includes feasting, four-day weekends, football games, floats, family reunions, or a forerunner to Christmas festivities. The “first Thanksgiving,” however, was neither a feast nor a holiday, but a simple gathering. Following the Mayflower’s arrival at Plymouth Rock on December 11, 1620, the Pilgrims suffered the lost of 46 of their original 102 colonists. With the help of 91 Indians, the remaining Pilgrims survived the bitter winter and yielded a bountiful harvest in 1621. In celebration, a traditional English harvest festival, lasting three days brought the Pilgrims and natives to unite in a “thanksgiving” observance. 
(Continued below).

Pretty purple flowers blooming in spring.

This “thanksgiving” meal would not be celebrated again until June of 1676. On June 29 the community of Charlestown, Massachusetts proclaimed a day of thanksgiving for their good fortune. Ironically, this celebration excluded the Indians, as the colonists’ recognized their recent victory over the “heathen natives.” One hundred years later, in October of 1777, all 13 colonies participated in a one-time “thanksgiving” celebration which commemorated the patriotic victory over the British at Saratoga. It would take a span of over 150 more years to establish Thanksgiving as we celebrate it — George Washington proclaimed it a National holiday in 1789, Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November in 1863, and Congress sanctioned it as a legal holiday in 1941.”

Me, sitting on the train.

For those of us growing up in the US, most often we associated Thanksgiving with the beginning of the holiday season, a big hearty meal of turkey and dressing (a seasoned bread mixture used to stuff the bird), mashed potatoes, with gravy, sweet potatoes (yams) covered in white marshmallow topping, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce and of course, the popular pumpkin pie.

No word can describe how important it was for us, to be able to do this beautiful celebratory meal to enjoy with family and friends. I especially enjoyed making multiple pumpkin pies, all from scratch, to line them up on the kitchen counter so everyone could take home a pie to enjoy along with their bags of leftovers.

This yellow box is used for registration into the train using the purchased transport card.

After the festivities ended, the next day was the beginning of decorating our home for Christmas which required the three remaining days of the four day weekend to set all the treasured decorations in place on the tree and throughout the house. 

This is Adelaide Station.

It was a daunting, time consuming task, but when completed and the lights on the tree were twinkling, all was good with the world. Do we miss this?    We miss our family celebrations. We are not missing all the work necessary to achieve all of this.

Honestly, at this point in our lives, I can’t envision every going through all that work; not the preparation of the meal nor the decorating of the tree(s) (we had two trees), the month long baking frenzy, the endless piles of gifts to wrap and the often 200 to 300 Christmas cards we sent every year, each with it’s own handwritten message inside.

Memorial statue.

This era has passed for us.  Are we sad?  Not at all. This year marks the 5th Thanksgiving since we left Minnesota on October 31, 2012.    Most countries don’t grow turkeys and with my special way of eating the other dishes require major modifications to be suitable. 

When Thanksgiving was upon us while living in other countries, most often, we’ve dined out or made a chicken dinner with familiar and delicious sides we’ve known and love.

Statue outside the library building.

This year on the ship around Australia, we were told they were going to create a special menu for the 400 Americans on the ship.    Very likely, Tom will be taking part in the offerings while I pass.  Plain turkey doesn’t appeal to me and none of the side dishes will be suitable. That doesn’t bother me one bit. Whatever the chefs prepare for me as they do every night will be all right.

As for the upcoming Christmas season and Tom’s birthday on December 23rd, we’ll continue with the new traditions we’ve established over these past years of world travel; a homemade dinner for Tom’s birthday and on Christmas Eve and dining out on Christmas day, if there’s a local restaurant offering Christmas dinner. That works for us.

Statue commemorating Sir Henry Bragg.

As a matter of fact, I’ve already started accumulating some new recipes for the above occasions and look forward to enjoying them together. We no longer give gifts to one another (our lives are all the gifts we need) and do not set up a Christmas tree and decorations. 

Commemorative statue of Mary Lee.

We send US purchased gifts for the six grandchildren. We send gifts to the U.S. for the six grandchildren. 

Memorial structure in the center of town.

With the date differential here on this side of the International Dateline, Thanksgiving will be celebrated on the ship tomorrow, which is Thursday. In the US, it will be celebrated on Thursday, two days from today.

We have no regrets. For us, every day of our lives, of world travel deserves thanksgiving, however unusual and varied it may be.

Cactus-like plant blooming in spring.

May all of you revel in the joy of thanksgiving for life itself and in the holiday for those who celebrate.

Photo from one year ago today, November 23, 2015:

In Fiji, one year ago, a nursing pig with her piglets. For more photos, please click here.

Storm subsides…Happy Thanksgiving to all in the US…Finding happiness throughout the world…

Behind this fence and a short drive to the beach is the location of Jean-Michel Cousteu Resort, another upscale all inclusive resort in Savusavu.

It always feels a little odd when its a holiday and we don’t celebrate.  Not that we mind.  We don’t.  Now that the stormy weather has subsided, we’ve scheduled getting out today with Rasnesh who’ll pick us up at 1 pm. 

We spent a lifetime making holidays special and although we always wish the very best to our family, friends and worldwide readers, we’re content that we’ve made this choice. 

Today, Thanksgiving in the US, we’ll dine on Helen’s roasted chickens with veggies and salad.  We don’t celebrate this holiday or any others as we travel the world.  It hasn’t seemed to work well to do so when many holidays are only celebrated in the US. 

This morning, in speaking with one of my sisters, she wondered how we can be happy without a sense of “community” or belonging to an area, participating in local activities, volunteering, attending functions, cultural events and dining out, all the activities many retired seniors often do with enthusiasm and passion.

View of Nawi Island in the village.

When we live in an area that offers social functions, a sense of “belonging” we jump on board happy to participate and feel included.  This has only been practical in a few locations in which we’ve lived to date; Marloth Park, South Africa and Kauai, Hawaii where collectively we spent seven months engaged in memorable social lives.

Living this life, we haul our happiness with us.  No social life?  No problem.  We find pleasure and entertainment being together.  A few days ago, with no transportation and an all day power outage, we kept ourselves busy and entertained, enjoying each other’s companionship.

After all, hanging out with one’s best friend never gets boring. Add the playful aspect of “being in love” and lots of laughter, day by day, we find ourselves enjoying whatever we may do.

Sure, we love to go to museums, cultural centers and visit local points of interest.  Here in Savusavu, there are no museums, no cultural centers and few major points of interest we haven’t already visited.  When a trip to the dentist becomes an “interesting” activity we know we’re easy to please.

Dining out is a huge activity for most travelers.  We have the reality of my way of eating that has enabled me to travel the world pain free and in good health.  Would I trade dining out for my ability to walk?  Hardly. 

View from the hill above our house.

It amazes me that Tom has so readily adapted to my diet and easily accepts that we don’t eat out more often.  He never complains.  And, if he suggests we dine out, I’d be happy to go.  I can always order a piece of fish or a steak and a salad without the sauces and starchy sides.

But, he too has his limitations.  He doesn’t like spicy food.  That’s not to say I don’t season our food.  I do.  Over the years I’ve learned which spices he’ll tolerate and which he will not.  As a result, our meals are well seasoned and flavorful, just not with curry or Moroccan type spices common in many parts of the world.

Add these two peculiarities for us two travelers and dining out in remote locations become extremely challenging and often not worth the bother.  After we spent a month in Paris and London, dining out for 31 days in a row, we discovered how we could adapt and do well in the right location with a wide variety of food types.

Over the next year we’ll be on four cruises, totaling 61 days where we’ll be essentially dining out for every meal.  With the accommodations made by the various chefs, we’re easily able to fulfill our needs and expectations, often to a point whereby the meals are highly enjoyable and suitable for both of us.

In more remote areas, there are fewer options of dining out on less seasoned, sugary and starchy meals, as has been the case here in Fiji.  Two months from now, we’ll be living in New Zealand for three months.  Dining out there will be relatively easy and from time to time, we will.

Water tank servicing this area.

Also, we face the facts of our budget.  Often dining out in many locations can be pricey.  In order for us to continue traveling without money worries, we must consider the budget and its limitations.  Our average daily cost for cooking our meals is USD $27, FJD $58. 

If we were to dine out, the cost will generally be twice that amount at the very least including beverages, tax and tip.  In more populated areas, we’d easily spend three times that amount. 

Every month, we pay off our credit cards in full, leaving room for the huge amounts of rents and cruise fares we’re required to pay well into the future.  If we were to dine out twice a week, we’d see those balances climb which could easily impact the price range of the properties we choose which, in the long run, is more important to us than dining out, especially with our limitations.

In my old life, I was a “foodie” loving to cook and entertain.  This is our new life.
Today, the Thanksgiving holiday in the US, we’ll continue to be thankful as always, as we dine on Helen’s chickens, content as ever.

Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate in the US and to the rest of the world…have a glorious day!


Photo from one year ago today, November 27, 2014:

A year ago today, we visited the Whalers Village Museum.  These are whaling ship’s masthead rings that held the sailors to the mast.  For more museum photos, please click here.

Thanksgiving holiday approaching for US citizens…Pumpkin pies…Do we miss it all?

Our condo in Scottsdale, Arizona in November, 2012 where we lived for a few months as we finished the final preparations for leaving the US.  We had the table set for company when two of Tom’s sisters and one brother-in-law were coming for dinner (not on Thanksgiving Day).

With tomorrow’s Thanksgiving holiday celebration, the second most celebrated holiday in the US, next to Christmas, in our past lives this would have been a busy day for me. Tom always worked and at times, based on his schedule on the railroad, he may have had to work on the actual holiday, missing all or part of the meal.

With Thanksgiving always occurring on the last Thursday in November, Wednesday would always be my pie baking day…pumpkin pies to be exact, making no less than eight pies, often more, depending on how many were coming for the holiday dinner the next day.

I rolled the dough for each of the pies, but typical for pumpkin pies, a doughy top crust isn’t included, just ample room for gobs of whipped cream for those who prefer to indulge.

Whether we had a houseful or not, which some years we did not, I made the pies. We’d eat a few and share the remainder with our family and friends. Never once did a single pie go to waste.

With the change in my way of eating in 2011, I still made all of the traditional foods on that last Thanksgiving before we left, making a few extra side dishes befitting my diet. Nothing was lacking in tradition or taste. 

We left Minnesota on Halloween, 2012 (October 31st) and I haven’t made a Thanksgiving dinner since. Many countries don’t offer turkeys for sale in the markets, although resorts and some restaurants may order them from their suppliers to fill the needs of tourists from the US on this special holiday.

Before the storms of the past few days, a blue sky inspired this photo of the cotton tree.

The last time Tom had a Thanksgiving meal was when we dined outdoors (the first time either of us dined outdoors on Thanksgiving) while we spent the last few months in Scottsdale, Arizona completing our “paperwork” and digital needs before leaving on our journey. 

There was much to do for the final preparations and we’d decided to spend it in a warm climate, close to Tom’s sisters in Apache Junction, Arizona, and no more than a five-hour drive from eldest son Richard in Henderson, Nevada, eldest sister Susan in Las Vegas and my younger sister Julie in Los Angeles, California.

We stayed in a lovely condo in the Old Town area of Scottsdale. With Tom’s car still in our possession which son Richard took off our hands at the pier in San Diego, the day we left the US, we were easily able to get around Scottsdale. 

When Thanksgiving approached, we decided to try a popular buffet known for extraordinarily great food at a local casino in Scottsdale, the Talking Stick. They didn’t take reservations so we decided an early meal might be advantageous.  Once we arrived at the casino, the line for the buffet was at least 200 deep. It would take hours in line. 

We left the casino, heading to a popular eatery in quaint Old Town, and somehow managed to snag a cozy table for two on the patio. It was a sunny, warm day. 

These red flowers continue to thrive in the rainy weather.

Tom ordered the Thanksgiving meal while I ordered a meal prepared to befit my diet. Apparently, in looking back at old posts during that period of time, I didn’t write anything about that day, at that point not as committed to our daily ramblings and photos as we are now. 

The Thanksgiving years from there on; 2013 was spent in Kenya, 2014 in Maui, Hawaii, and now, here in Fiji.  Last year in Maui, we opted out of making the meal, although all of the ingredients for making the big dinner were available in the markets.  

Last year, making a Thanksgiving dinner in Maui wasn’t worth the trouble when Tom was also following my way of eating. Plus, it wouldn’t be the same without the pumpkin pies which was equally meaningful as the turkey itself.

Do we miss it? We’ll always miss big family celebrations. But, not with tears in our eyes. We chose this life and have accepted the reality that we’ll only see family (in person as opposed to “face time”) every few years. 

With the holiday actually occurring tomorrow where it will be Thursday in the US (it will be Friday here) we hope to speak to everyone at some point. The huge time difference makes it challenging but we’ll figure it out. 

To all of our family and friends in the US, have a wonderful Thanksgiving tomorrow, enjoy every last morsel of the scrumptious meal while we’ll be thinking of you with love in our hearts and smiles on our faces.

Today, our usual shopping day, we’ve postponed it to tomorrow. There a huge tropical storm (not necessarily dangerous). Neither of us sees any reason to go out in the high winds and pouring rain when tomorrow will be just as fine. We have plenty of food for dinner and with only 10 days until departure, we don’t mind using what we have on hand.

Photo from one year ago today, November 26, 2015:

One year ago today, we visited Whalers Village in Kaanapali Beach, Maui, a favorite tourist attraction. We had a fabulous day, enjoying every moment. For more photos, please click here.

Happy Thanksgiving to our family and friends in the US…Happy day to our friends all over the world…More new photos…

In Maui its not unusual for clouds to suddenly roll in along the mountains.

Every Thanksgiving Day of my adult life except for the past three years of living in the “world” I’d dash out of bed early in the morning, hurriedly shower and dress to begin the day and the process of making the big Thanksgiving Day dinner, having made the eight to ten pumpkin pies the previous day.

Entrance to the beautiful beach in Kaanapali.

The time would quickly pass, as I multi-tasked making one familiar dish after another, enjoying every moment as I jammed our multiple refrigerators with one pan of yet-to-be-cooked dishes in preparation of later in the days’ appearance of family members, or not.

In later years, three of four of our grown kids and their families (living in the area) often spent the holidays at the “other side” or had begun to develop their own traditions, and Tom and I were alone, a not uncommon scenario for families of divorce and multiple and varying family lifestyles.

A view of the sea and cloud as we walked the boardwalk in Kaanapali Beach.

Those last years in Minnesota, whether we were alone on holidays or together with family and friends, Tom and I made the day festive about the varied dishes, fabulous smells wafting through the air and, thankful for our lives filled with abundance in many ways.

Today, not unlike this third Thanksgiving in a row, I awoke this morning, hurriedly showered and dressed, and turned on the hot water for my tea. There’s no food to cook when yesterday I roasted two chickens and vegetables that we’ll happily reheat tonight, adding a salad and fresh cooked green beans, prepared in a matter of minutes, not hours.

Along the boardwalk at Kaanapali Beach.

Do I miss the preparations of years past? Not, at all. I often ask myself how I seemingly happily spent so much of my time cooking, cleaning, and preparing meals in my old life when now, the simplicity of the way we eat takes little time mostly spent in washing, chopping, and dicing vegetables for side dishes and salad.

Kiosks appeared every few hundred feet offering various ocean activities.

Of course, we miss the playful and meaningful interactions with family during get-togethers That fact will never change, soon to be revived in a matter of weeks on the Big Island. But the work, we don’t miss at all. 

Restaurants line the boardwalk at Kaanapali beach.

As time has marched on, we’ve come more to the realization that it never was about the food, the beautifully decorated house and the endless gifts under the tree, the 18 decorated Easter baskets carefully arranged on the massive dining room table or, the bunny rabbit cake, although each of these aspects and many more added to the traditions and festivities.

Whether it’s the ocean or the mountains, Maui is breathtaking in every direction.

In time, those traditions will be but a distant memory for all of us, as new traditions are born, each bespeaking this time in life, for us, for them, and for generations to come.

Skeleton of a humpback whale at the Whalers Village.

Soon, as we anticipate their arrival, we wrap our brains around simple time spent together, sharing stories, playing games, gazing out at the sea all the while embracing these special moments, that in themselves, become the new traditions of another place and time.

The boardwalk is cluttered with accouterment appealing to the tourist population.

So, today, we’ll happily enjoy our “leftovers” put together in a matter of minutes for another fine meal, on yet another fine day, knowing that what we have today is all we want and what the future soon brings when we’re all together again, is all we’ll need.

Happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate today. And, happy day to all.

                                              Photo from one year ago today, November 27, 2013:
In error, yesterday I accidentally posted a photo from this date one year ago. As a result, there will be no year ago photo for today.