Day #274 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Merry Christmas Eve…Scroll down for our Christmas poem from the past…

Today’s poem I wrote years ago is from a post on this date, Christmas Eve, December 24, 2013, while in Marloth Park, South Africa. For more details, please click here.

The above Christmas graphic is to express our wishes to family, friends, and readers all over the world. In reviewing the countries mentioned in the above image, we haven’t visited four of these 15 countries: China, Israel, the Philippines, and Norway. Apparently, we still have plenty of the world yet to see!

Tom was delighted with the endless stream of birthday wishes that came his way via Facebook and email. Many came through our site and my email as well. He appreciated every single kind and generous message. Thank you!

Tom and I never say “Merry Christmas” until the actual “eve” begins on December 24th which is several hours from now. In our old lives, we were often still reeling from the festivities from his birthday the prior day. This year? None of the “reeling.” Instead, we wait with bated breath for the next 19 days until we know we can depart India and begin the long journey to South Africa.

We have nothing planned for today or tomorrow. There’s nothing that could bespeak the holiday season for us at this time. Instead, we’ll focus on our feelings of gratitude for that which we do have in our presence and afar at this time; the love and friendship for one another, our family, friends, and readers; safety from Covid-19; and of course, the fingers-crossed prospect of leaving India before too long.

As more and more news comes out of South Africa with a rapid increase in new cases, especially from a new strain, we wait with bated breath, hoping the borders stay open for the next 19 days and nights, allowing us ample time to get out of here.

Today, the air-con in the building isn’t working, but it is being worked on, based on a call we received from the front desk. It could take two to three hours until it’s working again. It’s stifling in our room and getting hotter by the minute. I just returned from a fast walk in the corridors, dodging guests talking loudly on phones, without masks, and I’m sweating up a storm.

Midway through my walk, I stopped to send an email to the front desk. They, too, are upset about guests not wearing masks and want us to report any discrepancies we observe, if we don’t mind. They don’t want to get sick, nor do the loyal staff who have left their homes, their families for months at a time to work and live here. It’s unfair for everyone.

Ah, anyway, we’re trying to get into the holiday spirit and the best way we can do this is through memories of Christmases past. In reviewing which photo’s we’d post today for Christmas Eve, I stumbled across this poem I wrote in our old lives, a few nights before the family arrived for Christmas Day dinner.

I decided to share this poem again today, seven years later. It seems all the more appropriate based on the circumstances everyone is experiencing all over the world. Here you go:


Elbow to elbow, we’re all gathered here

Family and friends, sharing holiday cheer

Our plates, all filled, with tasty delights

Our appetites whetted, to take the first bites

The candlelight glowing on each smiling face

As we look to each other, wondering who will say “grace”

The words are well-spoken, as hands are held tight

The meaning, so special, this holiday night

Elbow to elbow, we’re all gathered here

At this table, we’ve gathered for many a’ year

We’ve enjoyed fancy dinners, some romantic for two

And squeezed in so many, as our family grew

And now, here are our children, adult and attached

In love with their partners and very well matched

With room at the table, their children are here

As we teach them the meaning of holiday cheer

A few are still missing, there always will be

Their gifts in the mail, not under the tree

We’re feeling their love, across all the miles

Holding back tears, remembering their smiles

Elbow to elbow, we’re all gathered here

Putting aside life’s trouble and fear

The food and the merriment, the taste of good wine

The joy and the happiness, knowing they’re mine.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

We’ll be back with more tomorrow on Christmas Day.

Photo from one year ago today, December 24, 2019:

No photos were posted on Christmas Eve last year other than the above. Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah to our family, friends/readers all over the world. For more on this post, please click here.

Merry Christmas, everyone!…Christmas Eve festivities…”We’ll figure it out”…

A band from Minnesota played country music at the Apache Junction VFW’s
Christmas Eve festivities.

Today’s photos were from yesterday afternoon while we attended the festivities at a local Apache Junction VFW from 1:00 to 4:00 pm. Later in the day, we gathered at Colleen’s house for snacks and more entertaining and lively conversations. Four neighbors stopped by to join the six of us.

Although it never snowed anywhere we’ve traveled over the world the past seven years except while we were in Antarctica almost two years ago, somehow being in the US during Christmas feels a bit unfamiliar without snow.

Tom, another year older but still loads of fun!

Arizona, with its usually warm and mild winters, doesn’t quite remind us of Christmastime even with the lights and decorations. Today, it’s raining. Then again, during these past travel years, we haven’t created the ambiance we so well remember of Christmases long ago. 

We have no decorations, no tree, no gifts, no tins of home-baked Christmas cookies. Nor did we send out Christmas cards or gifts other than to our grandchildren.

But, somehow the Christmas spirit fills our hearts and we think of our loved ones far away and may at times, miss the merriment we so embraced in our old lives.

Tom and brother-in-law Gene. Note Tom: always using his hands when he tells a story.
We didn’t include photos of other family members when they prefer not to have their
photos published online. No problem.

We’d be foolhardy to say we don’t miss certain aspects of our old lives. We do. It goes without saying, we’ll always miss our family members and friends. At times, we even miss our old house, the lake, the wildlife, and our wonderful neighbors.

But, it feels as if all of that was a lifetime ago. These seven years have left us drawing upon memories of prior years which is a blur in many ways…not the time we spent with loved ones but the intangible sensations of the Christmas season…the smell of cookies baking; the twinkling of little lights on the tree; and the often falling snowflakes.

But soon, as we embark on yet another exotic and unusual journey, we find ourselves relieved of such idle meanderings as we imagine the future ahead of us and what treasures it has to bring.

Nothing like an adorable “wiener dog” to liven up the VFW’s Christmas Eve festivities.

No, people don’t understand the powerful hold that the wanderlust spirit has blissfully imposed upon us. We love this life. We’re often asked, “How could you possibly leave everyone you love behind?”

We didn’t make that decision lightly nor do we flippantly consider it now. We hope and pray our family members understand and know full well that however far away we may be, they are always in our hearts and minds.

When I was a child, my paternal grandmother, whom I dearly cherished lived all the way across the country. We only saw her once every five or six years and stayed in touch via handwritten letters and perhaps a once a year phone call. I never loved her any less that she chose to live far away. I loved her all the more.

Many brought “white elephant gifts” to swap amongst each other. It was fun to see some of the funny gifts, including a 10-year-old who ended up with an adult movie that his parents immediately grabbed from his hands.

We can only hope our fast-growing-up grandchildren and adult children feel the same, accepting and loving us just the same. With the availability of the internet, it has been much easier to stay in touch, see their faces, hear their voices, and share their lives.

Life is never perfect nor it is exactly as we wished it would be with all the efforts we’ve made in the world. This past year, was a life-shattering and potentially life-changing experience when I had emergency open-heart surgery in February in South Africa.

Yet, somehow, we made it through. Did we learn something from this frightening experience? With both of us have had many challenges in our lives, as most people do, I can’t say we learned a lot about ourselves we didn’t already know.

The table was filled with white elephant gifts.

But, we did learn one thing often asked of us, “What will you do if something goes terribly wrong?” At the time of these types of queries, we’d look at one another and reply, “We’ll figure it out.”

And that is exactly what we did. We figured it out. Here we are now, only 35 days before departure for India, and we’re braced and ready for this next phase of our travels, armed with the knowledge that we have the motivation, mutual love and determination that we’ll always be able to “figure it out.”

Merry Christmas to each and every one of our family members, readers/friends and all the people we’ve met along the way. We truly feel blessed in more than one way…


Photo from one year ago today, December 25, 2018:

Little doesn’t disappoint.  He stopped by Christmas Eve morning and began walking up the steps to the house. I found him on step #3 and encouraged him to eat outside. He complied.  I tendered pellets, apples, and carrots.  He ate the produce and left the pellets thinking about the human leftovers he would be getting elsewhere at a holidaymaker’s houses, maybe chips, Christmas cookies and marshmallows (none of which are good for him).  But, after all, he is a pig and he likes junk food, too. Merry Christmas. For more, please click here.

Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah to all of our family and friends/readers who celebrate…

Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah to our friends all over the world.

We extend our heartfelt wishes to those who celebrate Christmas and Chanukah. We awoke this morning to Christmas Eve day and with an unusual (for us) activity on the agenda, we’re celebrating once again with Tom’s sisters and spouses.

This morning at 5:20 am Tom bolted out of bed to drive Margie to the Mesa airport. She was flying back to Minnesota for her granddaughter’s wedding occurring on New Year’s Eve and will return to Apache Junction the first week in January.

This leaves the six of us to continue the celebrations of the holiday season which included Tom’s birthday last night with a big meal and the Minnesota Vikings game (they lost) we watched shortly after dining.

I could kick myself for failing to take photos. Now that I’m using my Google 4XL phone for taking photos, I am having a hard time taking time out of the festivities to take photos. I certainly will be taking photos in India soon enough.

But, in reality, life isn’t always about photos. It’s about memorable experiences and those aren’t always captured with a phone or camera. Tom’s birthday celebration was easy flowing, lively and delightfully fun for the seven of us.

So what’s on the agenda today? We’re joining the family for their tradition of attending the local VFW’s annual “Tom & Jerry” Christmas Eve Day party which begins at 1:00 pm, ending around 4:00 pm. 

Neither Tom nor I drink Tom and Jerry’s and most likely one of us will be the designated driver since we don’t care to drink adult beverages during the day. Instead, we’ll have fun with the others enjoying this unusual way for us to celebrate Christmas Eve Day.

As for last night’s dinner, everything came out exactly as planned. Some of the edges of the garlic bread were overcooked but I trimmed them off and it was still a hit. Tom perfectly cooked everyone’s steak medium rare as requested and mine, rare. 

The butterflied garlic butter prawns were delicious and not a one was left behind. At half time, I served Tom’s lemon birthday cake and they all thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a good meal.

Last night, after dinner Tom washed all the dishes right away. With the kitchen’s small size it’s imperative we get everything out of the way. Shortly afterward I dried the dishes and put everything away. We awoke this morning to the little house being tidy and back in order.

Living in this small space and yet performing normal household activities requires diligence in keeping everything tidy or a feeling of chaos would ensue. We avoid chaos like the plague.

Speaking of the plague, we’re finally recovered from the dreadful flu that lasted for over six weeks, although on occasion we cough a little. That virus compared to the awful virus from a cruise to Sydney in 2015 that left us both coughing for weeks.

Tom is napping right now. Not a good napper, I am walking on my tiptoes to avoid making any noise and awakening him. Hopefully, he can rest for an hour or two until we leave for the VFW.

We wish every one of our family, friends/readers a very Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah. May the joy, spirituality, and merriment of the season fill your hearts with love, fulfillment, and hope for the future.

Thank you for sharing this time, all times in the past and times upcoming in the future. All of you are instrumental in the joy we feel as we continue on this journey…36 days and counting…

Photo from one year ago today, December 24, 2018:

OThe bright light behind us wasn’t the best vantage point in taking this photo. From left to right: Don, Kathy, me, Tom, Danie, Gerhard with Louise and Rita in front. For more photos from his party one year ago, please click here.

Happy birthday to my husband Tom…A special celebration on the menu…

Jandre, Danie, Kathy, Tom, me, Rita, Louise and Gerhard on the veranda overlooking the Crocodile River at Tom’s birthday party last year. (Photo is from the following day’s post on December 24th. Don, Kathy’s husband took the photo).

It’s a delightfully busy morning as I continue to prep today’s dishes for Tom’s birthday dinner party starting at 4:00 pm today. Yesterday, we posted the menu. If you missed it, please click here.

Thank goodness, I managed to get all the chopping and dicing done yesterday. Although the menu is uncomplicated, it still requires a tremendous amount of preparation to pull it all together.

All I have left to do today is broil the garlic shrimp, broil the garlic bread, cook the sauteed Portobello mushrooms, bake the potatoes, toss the salad and wrap up the cake which has been baked and is awaiting the finishing touches. It will be an easy day.

Yesterday we squeezed all the lemons for the Lemon Drop Martinis and soon I’ll add the sugar and wrap up the mix to which our guests, may add either gin or vodka which I’ll whir with ice in Mary’s borrowed blender.

With limited space, I can’t set the table until it’s time to eat. We’re borrowing a table from Mary which, as it turns out we’ll have to set up indoors. It’s a very cool and cloudy day with possibilities of rain requiring we eat indoors.

Tom will cook the already marinating New York Strip steaks to order on the grill while I get the remaining dishes ready to be served. No stress here. I’ve always strived to make dinner parties seamless by avoiding being in a tizzy for any part of it. 

Nothing stresses guests more when they see their hosts scrambling in an attempt to get the meal put together. We’ve strived to avoid such a scenario preferring our guests can relax and enjoy their time at our party.

I am overflowing with love and gratefulness for my husband. This morning I wrote a tribute to him on Facebook as follows which says it all:

“Happy birthday to my husband Tom, my travel companion, friend, and forever lover. You always have been a loving and thoughtful partner but this past year you further proved the “stuff” you are made of when you took care of me for many months while I recovered from open-heart surgery in South Africa and thereafter. Your love and devotion came through each and every day and continue now that I am well. This photo is when we were in Tanzania in the savannah. Now, my dream life continues with the man of my dreams when in 37 days we depart for two months touring India. Happy birthday, my love. I love you always…”

Our goal is not to “toot our own horn” here if possible but today I couldn’t help but remind Tom and our readers as to how fortunate I feel, we feel, to have one another, to be living this unusual life and most of all to be able to continue on after this trying year.

But, this year is especially meaningful when we have the opportunity to share it with a part of Tom’s family; three of his six sisters, two brothers-in-law and each other in usually warm and sunny Arizona.

May you have a fantastic day as the Christmas festivities continue…


Photo from one year ago today, December 23, 2018:

December 23, 2017:  Happy 65th birthday to my darling husband, lover,  travel companion and forever friend who has made this special and unique life of world travel possible.  Click here for details. For the post from one year ago today, please click here.

Prepping for Tom’s birthday dinner…Here’s the menu…

Photo of the beautiful Crocodile River taken from Marloth Park on this date in 2013. For more, please click here.

Tomorrow’s birthday dinner for Tom is the first big meal I’ve made for guests in over 10 months. When deciding on the menu for his birthday dinner tomorrow, I found it necessary to consider several factors: one, the limited space in the kitchen; two, that the various dishes are easy to prepare; Tom’s taste preferences (along with our guests); and limited space for serving a variety of side dishes.

While at the market last weekend, we noticed good prices on New York Strip steaks. They looked meaty with little visible fat and although the portions are big, everyone can take a “doggy bag” home if they’d like.

We purchased two packages of five steaks each and separated the seven we’d need for the meal, keeping three for the two of us at some point in the future and freezing all of them. Steak on its own may not be all that exciting for some so we also purchased a bag of jumbo butterflied prawns. 

Each plate will have a steak and prawns. Thus, the menu rolled out as follows:

  • New York Strip steaks, cooked to order on the grill
  • Jumbo garlic broiled butterflied prawns
  • Baked potatoes with sour cream and fresh chives
  • Asian green beans with light spices, bacon, sauteed garlic, and onion
  • Sauteed Portabello mushrooms
  • Par 30 Salad: a delicious tossed salad from a recipe, in our old lives, from a restaurant on at a nearby golf course. Romaine lettuce, green onions, bacon, slivered almonds tossed in a slightly sweet and tangy homemade dressing
  • Garlic bread, topped with fresh garlic and Parmesan cheese
  • Tom’s favorite lemon cake, infused with vanilla pudding, crushed pineapple and topped with Cool Whip
The items on this menu that work for me is the steak, prawns, green beans, mushrooms, and salad. This is an ideal meal for me and hopefully for everyone else.

We’ll dine by 4:00 or 4:30 pm due to a Vikings game which will be on TV starting at 6:15 pm. All of us, from Minnesota, will watch the game. We have enough chairs and seating to make this work for the seven of us. 

Most likely, I’ll serve the cake at half time or sooner, when everyone’s ready for the final course. I’ve always loved this cake so I have to remind myself not to lick my fingers or take a single taste.

I decided against serving any snacks or appetizers before the meal when all it does is make everyone full before the meal is served. It’s disappointing for the cook to find guests already full before the main meal is served. And, it’s hard for the guests who wish they had “room” to eat the main meal. 

Today, we took off for the Safeway market for a few last-minute items while our laundry was drying. We were back in time by a few minutes before it was done. Returning back to the house, we put all the laundry away and I started chopping and dicing for tomorrow’s meal.

Soon, we’ll juice all the lemons for tomorrow’s Lemon Drop Martinis. We picked all the lemons from Mary and Eugene’s lemon tree in front of their property. Colleen provided a bottle of Sapphire Gin and a bottle of Absolute Vodka to use for the martinis.

After our 3:00 pm main meal today: roast chicken, salad and rice (for Tom) he’ll vacuum all the floors and I’ll wash them. This morning I did some cleaning so we’ll be all set by the end of the day as I continue to work on the above side dishes. I’ve already finished the green beans and will continue to chop and dice for the salad.

First thing in the morning, I’ll make the cake, marinated the steaks, prep the prawns, potatoes, and garlic bread. I’m doing as much as I can today to ensure tomorrow is easy.

Hopefully, the day will be as warm and sunny as it is today with a high of 72F (22C).  May you have a warm and sunny day as you plan and prepare for the holiday season.
Photo from one year ago today, December 22, 2018:
The baby bushbuck took cover behind mom when she wasn’t sure what to do when she saw us. For more photos, please click here.

Planning Tom’s birthday party on the 23rd and holiday festivities…

Photo from this date in 2013: Of nine members of this warthog family, there are two moms; one with four babies and the other with three babies.  From watching this family almost daily over a period of 18 days, we believe the mom shown above is the mom of the three babies, which if you look closely are all nursing. (It’s hard to see the third).  Thus, the baby on which she is resting her chin belongs to the other mom who is nearby and seems comfortable with this situation.  We couldn’t have laughed more when the fourth baby, whether hers or not provided this neck resting spot. For more photos from this date, please click here.

With Tom’s birthday party in only four days, we’ve begun planning how we’ll seat seven people for dinner in our tiny house. We have four chairs inside, two at the dining table and four chairs outside which we can bring in as needed. 

The outdoor table has a glass top and it would be impossible to bring it inside. If the weather isn’t too cold we could eat early outdoors, bringing the inside table and chairs outdoors. 

The weather forecast predicts 69F (21C) on Monday. Usually, its warmest here between 3:00 and 4:00 pm. With the Minnesota Vikings game on at 6:15 pm, it should work out well if we eat around 4:00 pm and have “birthday cake” during halftime. 

An easy dinner is planned to avoid spending too much time in the tiny kitchen. Tom will cook on the gas grill while I wrap up the sides indoors. We only have six plates and salad bowls so we’ll borrow one more of each from the sisters to round it out to the seven of us.

Today, we’ll walk down to Mary and Eugene’s place to pick lemons off of her overflowing lemon tree to make lemon drop martinis as we’d made last year at his birthday party, hosted Rita and Gerhard. We’ll borrow a blender from Mary and a juicer from Margie as well.

My grocery list is complete and we’ve already purchased the meat and ingredients for the dessert. A quick trip to the market will wrap it up which I’ll do over the weekend or perhaps tomorrow to avoid some of the Christmas rush.

On Christmas Day, Mary and Eugene are having the traditional turkey dinner. I will make the side vegetables and possibly a few pies. No doubt, the festivities will be delicious and festive.

For us, Christmas is less about gifts, decorating or a Christmas tree which we haven’t done since we began traveling. It’s never made sense living all over the world nor would be willing to accumulate “stuff.” We send gifts to the grandkids but had mutually agreed long ago not to purchase gifts for the adult kids.

We aren’t certain about Christmas Eve yet. Typically the family goes to a local establishment for drinks and light meals. Surely, we’ll join them this year. And, we’re planning to go to Christmas Eve Mass at a nearby church which starts at 8:00 pm, instead of midnight.

There are many seniors in this area and Midnight Mass would probably be poorly attended. Let’s face it, most seniors go to bed fairly early making midnight a little late for most of us.

Yesterday, at 4:00 pm we attended the pot luck mulled wine party at the clubhouse. I’d make a double batch of artichoke dip with Club crackers. We had no idea how many would attend so I assumed a doubt batch would be best. 

As it turned out the huge hot pan of the dip was consumed in no time at all along with all the dishes others had brought along. Much to my surprise, the mulled wine was delicious and made without sugar. With the chilly weather, it was a welcomed treat to stay warm.

Unfortunately, we’d forgotten to bring a camera or phone with us for photos. With at least a few hundred people in attendance and live music, it would have been great to share photos. Sorry about that!

In any case, Tom’s birthday and the holidays will be meaningful and fun while we’re here in Apache Junction. May all of our readers who celebrate have an excellent time planning their holiday festivities.


Photo from one year ago today, December 19, 2018:

This is one of our favorite pairs of warthogs, Mike and Joe, named after two US vice presidents, non-partisan of course, Mike Pence (current) and Joe Biden (last presidency).  Tom always says, “The VPs are here.” For more photos, please click here.

Shaken, not stirred…A special birthday for Tom filled with surprises…Merry Christmas to all…

The festive spirit took over.  From left to right Danie, Rita, me, Tom, Gerhard (in the back) Kathy and Don.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Party or not, this is Africa and a scorpion visitor joined the party on the back of the bathroom door.

It’s not easy to pull off a surprise birthday party.  Tom began to wonder when I packed two bottles of gin and two bottles of vodka with about 30 lemons in order to make sugar free Lemon Drop Martinis for Rita and I.  Most likely, neither of us would drink more than two.

The bright light behind us wasn’t the best vantage point in taking this photo.  From left to right: Don, Kathye me, Tom, Danie, Gerhard with Louise and Rita in front.
But, in Tom’s usual go-with-the-flow mentality he went along with the premise that I always make a lot of whatever we’re having and he brushed it off as my usual nonsense.
Beautiful platters of snacks.

We made our way to Rita and Gerhard’s huge condo at Ngwenya Lodge and made our way down a few steps carrying the apple crisp dessert I’d made earlier in the day, a box of four fancy martini glasses, an electric juicer Louise had provided, and two chill boxes (coolers in SA) filled to the brim with ice.

Jandre, Danie, Kathy, Tom, me, Rita, Louise and Gerhard on the veranda overlooking the  Crocodile River.

With much hoopla and enthusiasm, Rita and Gerhard greeted us as we entered the condo to find it beautifully decorated with balloons, streamers, blowers, and sparkly “Happy Birthday” confetti strewn about.  We gasped in sheer wonder.

The outdoor table set for 10.

It was obvious they’d gone to a lot of work for the dinner party for four.  But wait.  Moments later, Kathy and Don, Louise and Danie, and son Jandre and girlfriend Michelle popped into the living room with blowers in their mouths shouting, “Happy Birthday, Tom!” 

Our hosts, Rita and Gerhard, couldn’t have done anything more to make this a spectacular birthday for Tom and celebration for all of us.  Our heartfelt love and thanks to them both.

A surprise birthday party was born…albeit with only 10 of us but easily some of our most beloved friends in the bush.  Tom couldn’t stop smiling as I “oohed” and “aahed” over every detail, gleefully taking photos of the stunning spread.

We mulled around chatting until dark when we finally sat down to dinner.

There were appetizer platters, made by Rita and Louise, the outdoor table set for 10, with the aroma of delicious foods cooking on the stove and in the oven. How did we get so lucky to have such fine friends?

With the help of Jandre who juiced all the lemons, after some photo taking Tom and I got to work making the Lemon Drop martinis, after everyone who wanted one, eight out of ten, specified if they’d preferred Bombay Gin or Seagram’s Vodka (the only vodka brand we could find at the local liquor shop).

Jandre and Michelle.

“Shaken, not stirred,” we made the martinis which everyone seemed to enjoy, several asking for seconds awhile later.  Rita was busy in last-minute preparations for the fantastic meal she’d prepared while Kathy and Louise also helped in the kitchen. 

The festive nature of this special night was easily felt by all.  With the spirit of Christmas wafting through our heads, coupled with the smells of great food, the sights of the decorative setting and the joyful nature of each one of us in attendance created a night we’ll always remember.
Danie and Louise.

The night flew by too quickly. From the food served seamlessly on a buffet table in the kitchen to fill our plates and return to the outdoor table, to the giant scorpion Michelle discovered on the back of the bathroom door, every moment was memorable.

As the evening ended and we packed up our remains, glassware, juicer, and two cool boxes, we hugged everyone goodnight thanking them for sharing Tom’s special night.

Jandre, Michelle, Tom, me, Rita, Louise, and Gerhard huddled together for a photo.

And what can we say to Rita and Gerhard that could possibly extol the depth of our appreciation?  Thank you didn’t seem sufficient enough but for now, we hugged, we praised the amazing job and hard work in putting it all together and we walked out the door, looking forward to today when they’re joining us tonight for Christmas Eve dinner.

Our dinner tonight won’t be quite as elaborate.  We’re making homemade pizza, salad, and garlic bread (for the boys) with more of the scrumptious apple crisp for dessert which everyone seemed to love.
Tom and Don, celebrating together. We met he and Kathy five years ago today, Christmas Eve when they invited us to their bush home, having never met us but heard about us from friends Lynne and Mick, who we’ll all see again sometime in January.

So, now we change gears for the Christmas celebration in the bush, our second such affair in the past five years.  But, this time, our circle of friends has expanded and the meaning and blessings of the holiday season hold all the more joy. 

Tomorrow, us and Rita and Gerhard will join Kathy and Don at their home for Christmas dinner and the good times with friends will continue. 

A few weeks ago Kathy and Rita nonchalantly asked Tom, “What’s your favorite meal?”  He replied, “meat, mashed potatoes, sweet corn, and green beans.  Well, look here!  All his favorites and more, steamed cauliflower, potato salad, Greek salad, and spinach salad.  What a fantastic meal!

May your Christmas season (should you celebrate) be filled with the company of those you love with the spirit of the holiday season embracing your heart and soul.

Note:  On December 26th, we’ll be posting photos from Kathy and Don’s two holiday events.  Please check back.


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

Another colorful building exterior as we made our first walk in the neighborhood in Palermo,  Buenos Aires, Argentina, one year ago today.  For more, please click here.

Remembering Tom’s birthday over our years of world travel….Happy birthday, Tom!!!…

December 23, 2013:  We were so preoccupied from a “safari luck” day in Kruger, we didn’t take photos of Tom on his birthday.  Instead, here’s a favorite hippo photo we took on the sunset game drive.  Click here for details.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

We were thrilled to see Wildebeest Willie stop by for a bit of hay, some pellets and a nap in the shade.

Looking back at posts on Tom’s birthday since 2012, after we’d left Minnesota to begin our journey, we’re reminded of how few photos we’ve taken of us over the years. 

It’s not as if we’re particularly camera shy.  It’s more about the fact that we’re preoccupied with our surroundings, finding using the camera’s timer to take a photo of us a bit cumbersome, and preferring not to disturb other travelers to take our photo.

December 23, 2012:  At that time, we rarely posted photos unaware of how big the commitment to posting would eventually become and all the worldwide readers we’d eventually have.  Click here for the text from the post on Tom’s birthday in 2012.

Also, I guess I wasn’t diligent enough over the years to take photos of Tom on his birthdays as often as I could have.  Tonight, at Rita and Gerhard’s temporary home at Ngwenya where they’re making a special birthday dinner for him, I promise to take photos.

December 23, 2014:  Click here for a video taken on Tom’s birthday while in the Pahoa, on the Big Island in Hawaii with our kids and grandkids.

Last night, we did take photos at Kathy and Don’s party but once again, none of us, as we were preoccupied chatting with everyone, dining on excellent starters, appetizers or PuPu platters as Kathy and Don, who also live in Hawaii, refer to a variety of platters of delicious foodstuffs suitable for nibbling or dining.  We’ll post those photos soon.

But, today, Tom’s birthday is my primary focus.  I know, I could go on and on extolling his virtues as a husband, lover, travel companion and best friend but you’ve heard it all before.
December 23, 2015:   Tom’s birthday dinner in Fiji my rumpled lobster juice soiled clothes were a sight to see after dinner.  Click here for details.

Recently, I read some review from another travel writer’s post and the wife was severely criticized for raving on and on about how wonderful her husband is.  I cringed thinking, “Oh, good grief, that could be me.”

We don’t get many “haters” and are extremely grateful we don’t have to deal with the emotional upheaval that can be precipitated by negative comments from readers.  

Thus, I learned a lesson from someone else’s experience and will temper my enthusiasm in describing Tom’s fine qualities.  Above all, on this day of his, I’ll simply say I am grateful…for him…for our lives together…for the friends we’ve made along the way and for this magical world we live in.

December 23, 2016:  Mersey Beach bluff in Tasmania where we dined on Tom’s birthday.  The outdoor food wasn’t exceptional, the live band was festive and ocean views were exquisite. But, again I failed to take photos of him that night.  Click here for details.

It’s not just Marloth Park.  It’s also all the other places we’ve visited in the past six years.  It’s all the other experiences we’ve had along the way.  And, we can’t forget the joys of our “old lives” so many moons ago that linger as distant memories that flood our hearts and minds when we stop for a moment to recall.

Tonight we’ll celebrate with friends.  Today, we’ll revel in the day and whatever morsels of nature wander our way.  We’ve already been greeted by Ms. Bushbuck and Baby and of course, our friend “Little” who loved eating the apple peels from the birthday dessert Tom requested for tonight – homemade gluten-free apple crisp topped with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream.  

We have no doubt tonight will be wonderful at Rita and Gerhard’s birthday dinner.  We’re bringing all the ingredients to make sugar free Lemon Drop Martinis for this special occasion and his non-traditional birthday cake of apple crisp.
December 23, 2017:  Happy 65th birthday to my darling husband, lover,  travel companion and forever friend who has made this special and unique life of world travel possible.  Click here for details.

We’ll be back tomorrow with photos from last night’s party and tonight including photos of us and our friends.

Christmas is almost here.  May the blessings of the holiday season (for those who celebrate) fill your hearts and homes with love.


Photo from one year ago today, December 23, 2017:

Panamanian hats for sale in Manta, Ecuador.  This was the last post with favorite photos from the 30-night South America cruise which ended on this date, one year ago.  Click here for details.

Happy Birthday, Tom! Today, we celebrate YOU and…what???…Plus, photos of Tom over the past year…

Driving through the countryside a few days ago, Tom spotted this highly venomous Tiger snake crossing the road.  Quickly turning around, as it raced off into vegetation, we were able to get this photo.  For information on these scary snakes, please click here where its stated, “Most Australians know of tiger snakes and are aware of their fearsome reputation, though few people will ever encounter one.”  Leave it to us to encounter one after only 20 days in Tasmania!

On a blissfully warm and sunny day, today we celebrate Tom’s 64th birthday.  Without much hoopla, no gifts, cards or birthday cake, we celebrate it with as much enthusiasm as ever. 

While at a resort in Kenya in October 2013, celebrating our one year anniversary of world travel, Tom agreed to participate in the reptile show.  Click here for the full post.

Today, we thought it would be fun to share our snake stories when only two days ago we encountered the feared highly venomous Tiger Snake, which most Australians never see in their lifetime.  This precipitated our sharing other snake encounters in our world travels in the past 50 months.

Don’t get me wrong, Tom is not a snake enthusiast. But, encountering wildlife of many types is a highlight of our world travels and we treat each encounter with respect, curiosity and interest, although in this recent encounter and others shown here, with the utmost of caution.

Only slightly venomous, he held this snake in his hand without incident.

Grateful for another healthy and meaningful year in our world travels, its easy to look back and revel in the experiences we’ve had during this past year. The joy of seeing him embrace each and every location with childlike wonder adds so much to my own experience, let alone to us as a couple.

Tom let this green snake slither up his arm.

In these past 12 months since his last birthday, we’ve traveled to Fiji, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore, Bali (Indonesia), Viet Nam, Cambodia and Thailand.

We’ve sailed on four ocean cruises and one river cruise (Mekong), finally circumventing the Australian continent on a 33 night back to back cruise (two separate cruises, one after another with us staying in the same cabin) ending up here in Tasmania, Australia after a short flight from Sydney.  Wow!

This semi venomous snake paralyses its prey.  If they bite a human, the area of the bite will feel numb for a few hours but poses no systemic risk.  We were told to keep the head away from us while handling it.  This is me holding it as Tom took the photo.

Its even difficult for us to fathom the fact that we’ve visited and lived in so many countries in one year. We were in Malaysia for only a day but spent from one week to four months in the remaining locations.  It was a very good year.

This venomous snake, a Mozambique Splitting Cobra, dropped from the ceiling of the veranda in Marloth Park, South Africa, less than one meter from Tom’s bare feet as we sat outdoors awaiting the day’s “visitors.”  For more details, please click here.

Now, as we look to Tom’s 64th year, we anticipate the future with even more excitement as we look forward to the following, until his next birthday:
1.  March 1, 2017 to March 13, 2017, depart Tasmania, head to Sydney, boarding a 12 night cruise to New Caledonia; Vanuatu; Fiji and then back to Sydney.
2.  March 13, 2017 to April 22, 2017, stay in Manly (Sydney) for 40 nights in a vacation home.
3.  April 22, 2017 to May 15, 2017, a 24 night cruise from Sydney to Seattle, Washington, visiting Hawaii along the way.  Make our way by land from Seattle , Washington to Vancouver, British Columbia where we’ll spend two nights awaiting another cruise. (Continued below).

A python on Tom’s shoulder in Kenya. 

4.  May 17, 2017 to May 26, 2017, board an Alaskan cruise from Vancouver to Seattle with four ports in Alaska including; Ketchikan; Juneau; Skagway and Hubbard Glacier; Sitka; and Victoria, BC; then back to Seattle.
5.  May 26, 2017, fly from Seattle, Washington to Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Stay six weeks visiting family and friends.
6.  July 7, 2017, fly from Minnesota to Nevada where we’ll stay for three weeks visiting family. (Continued below).

I took this photo of Tom while we shopped for toiletries Sydney, Australia before boarding that day’s cruise on January 5, 2016.  It was pouring rain.  We were soaked but happy, as shown by the huge smile on his face!

7.  August 1, 2017 to November 22, 2017, fly from Nevada to Costa Rica where we’ll stay in a vacation home.
8.  November 22, 2017, fly to Miami to spend one night in a hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
9. November 23, 2017 to December 8, 2017, board the cruise in Fort Lauderdale, Florida including visits to Grand Cayman Islands; full transit on the new Panama Canal; Manta, Equador; Lima, Peru; Pisco, Peru; Arica, Chile; and on to Santiago, Chili. (Continued below).

In early 2016, we visited Everybody’s Theatre in Opunake, New Zealand when I shot this photo of Tom.  Click here for details.

10.  December 8, 2017 to December 23, 2017, stay on the same above cruise to continue on to Santiago, Chili to Buenos Aires, Argentina including visits to Puerto Montt, Chili; Chilean Fjords (cruising); Straits of Magellan;  Punta Arenas, Chili; Ushuaia, Argentina; Cape Horn (cruising); Puerto Madryn, Argentina; Punta del Este, Uruguay; Montevideo, Uruguay;  Buenos Aires.

This itinerary is expansive and exciting, each leg of the journey filling us with a sense of adventure and gratefulness for the opportunities to continue on this path, hopefully for many more birthdays to come.

While in Bali, this year, Tom dressed in traditional Hindu garb with the help of our household staff.  Love that hat on him (and the beard!) which he’s since shaved off.  Click here for details.

So…on this day, I wish my dear husband, travel companion, best friend and lover a very happy birthday and new year of his life.  Thank you for celebrating this life with me, for making each day a holiday and memorable experience and above all, for the opportunity in spending each day with YOU!


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

One year ago when I post a birthday letter to Tom, I posted this single photo of Tom which was taken in March, 2015 when we were in Princeville, Kauai playing bingo at the senior center.  For Tom’s birthday letter from last year, please click here.

Happy Birthday Tom…It’s your day to celebrate…It’s our day to treasure…Big guy, one year ago..

Yesterday, we spotted this humpback whale and got this shot from the lanai. We couldn’t have been more thrilled!

There’s a 100% chance of rain today. Our day trip plans are squashed.The mist across the ocean impedes our views making whale watching fruitless.

The raging sea.

But, last night the last of our family arrived and it’s Tom’s 62nd birthday. What more could we ask for? Oh, most likely some of the kids will take off to explore in the rain while Tom and I will happily stay behind with those who prefer to stay in like us. We’ve had our fill of sightseeing in the pouring rain. 

Picnic area at the park at the end of our road.

Besides, we have five more months in the islands with plenty of sunny days to explore. And, this is their family vacation and we encourage them to do what makes them happy.

The side view of our second house.

Last night, we chatted with son Greg for a few hours. After two years and two months of not sitting face to face, it was beyond enjoyable, as it’s been chatting with all of our family.

The park at the end of the road.

As for Tom’s birthday, we’ll find something else to do instead of going to see the volcano, a much better outing on a clear day. Tonight, we have a reservation for dinner at 6:00 pm for his “birthday party.”

The entrance to the park at the end of the road.

With all the activity on hand at the moment and plans being considered for the day, we’re cutting it short with a few new photos.

Along the path to the park.

Happy birthday to my darling husband. Thank you for being the best travel companion, lover, and friend in the world. I love our lives together and love you with all of my heart.

The path at the park.

Have a tremendous Tuesday as we approach the holiday season.

                                          Photo from one year ago today, December 23, 2013:

A year ago, on the previous night, we’d gone on a safari in Kruger National Park and got this shot of a hippo at sunset with the sun behind him. For more safari photos, please click here.