A repost from five years ago that still reflects our views…

Our new friend, “One-Wart,” is missing a full-sized wart on the right side of his face. Most likely, he was “born this way.,” possibly due to inbreeding. We have no doubt, he’ll be a regular.

While I’ve continued to edit past posts due to errors I’ve made over the years, along with other errors as a result of WiFi issues at the time, I stumbled across a post from November 13, 2015, that over five years later, still resonates who we are and what we believe. I hesitated to repost the text, of course, using some new photos from Marloth Park.

Why the hesitation? To avoid redundancy. After all, during the past 10 months in lockdown in India, there certainly was plenty of redundancy with dull stories and repeated photos from years past when no new photos were being taken. Thus, if you recall this post, feel free to pass by the text and enjoy the new photos taken in the past 24 hours.

Impalas rarely come to the garden since they are extremely shy around humans. This fellow stops by almost daily.

If years ago, someone would have told me I had to write a new story 365 days a year for over eight years, relevant to the current times, I’d have laughed and said it was impossible. I’d never be motivated to perform such a task. And yet, here we are, plugging away with the same enthusiasm in preparing our first post published on March 15, 2012. See that post here. It didn’t include a single photo but over the years, that first post has been one of our favorites, so well describing who we are and what we hoped to achieve in our worldwide travels.

But, this post, I stumbled upon yesterday afternoon while working on the past post’s edits, also caught my eye and I decided to share it again with you today. Our long time readers may recall this post, or they may not. Our newer readers may never have come across it as they occasionally reviewed the archives, if at all.

This is Dad & Son, who stop by daily to see what’s on the menu.

In essence, this old post is no big deal, but it is a reflection of who we were then and who we are now, which only you, as readers may decide if we have changed our views over the years. To see the photos from that date, please click here. Sit back, relax and read this revealing personal exposé we took seriously at the time and do so again now.  Here we go:

“A grain of sand on the beach of life…Who are we?…

Nothing in life is static. No state of being is guaranteed. All we know for certain is tomorrow a new day will dawn and tonight a sun will set. Even that eventuality is in question by scientific predictions in the millennium to come or sooner.

When we hear of new planets emerging within our range of perspective at the edges of our universe, our earth becomes small and insignificant in the vast expanse of “forever,” a place none of us in this lifetime will ever know.

How do we grasp a news report such as this:

“A rocky Earth-sized planet that circles a small, nearby star could be the most important world ever found beyond the solar system, astronomers say.The planet lies in the constellation of Vela in the southern sky and is close enough for telescopes to observe any atmosphere, it has, a procedure that could help spot life on other planets in the future. Named GJ 1132b, the alien world is about 16% larger than Earth, and at 39 light-years distant, is three times closer than any other Earth-sized rocky planet yet found around another star. At that distance, it is hoped that telescopes will be able to make out the chemistry of its atmosphere, the speed of its winds, and the colors of its sunsets.”

Six warthogs, a kudu and Frank came by, gathering around the braai.

As we simpletons scour the world, the earth, enraptured by its endless wonders along the way, we are in awe of earth’s natural evolution leaving some of the most exquisite scenery in its wake. Imagine all the millions of years that no humans were on this earth to even know it was there.

With predictions that human life as we know it, from a scientific perspective, has populated the earth for a mere 200,000 years is a “drop in the bucket” in time, a single grain of sand on a beach.

As the earth has further populated, each one of us has become a grain of sand on another beach of impossible calculations. How many are there now? How many have there been and how many are there yet to come?

A male bushbuck and a male impala. This species often graze together without incident.

And, within our own limited field of vision, we deem ourselves significant and meaningful. Collectively, we matter. Individually, we must seek the power of the masses to hope for change and progression.

It’s easy to hide away in our own self imposed universe, in our geographic sphere, reaching out only to that which is readily available within our grasp. Is it human nature that we tend to cocoon in a limited space and time?

Oh, as I ponder these thoughts, as I write a meaningless timeline of a day in the village as in yesterday’s post, I’m reminded of how infinitesimal our own world becomes coupled with our ambitious desire to see as much as the world as we can as the clock ticks loudly and annoyingly. How much time do we really have to complete this journey?  And what, within this realm, are we really doing?

After finishing the raw scramble eggs Tom placed in this pan, these two were determined to lap up every last drop.

I don’t know the answer to either of these questions which in itself is a further reminder of how little power we each have in this world. The mystery.  Is it wrought from a sense of spirituality or simply hard facts? It remains to be seen in this lifetime.

As we continue to explore the significance of every creature on earth and its interrelated purpose, it’s  easy to assume we humans are at the head of the food chain, and yet, life emerged long before we were here.

The cycle of life and the food chain is magical. Every creature’s design is magical and none of this could happen from an explosion of planets, remnants evolving into planets, remnants evolving into the earth.

Ms. Tortoise made a quick appearance, moving quickly through the bush.

A power, a spirituality beyond our comprehension created this magical life on this planet, and as we travel, we witness the vast array in which each population has formed their own perception of “who” and “what” this may be. They call it religion, faith, and spirituality in a manner they can most easily grasp and incorporate into their beings.

We don’t choose to see ourselves as self-serving individuals lost in a sea of “vacation,” “holiday” and travel options. We see ourselves, all of us, you and us, as on a long journey of personal discovery in pursuit of the answers to our own relevant questions, whether we travel the world or sit back in an armchair, hoping to find answers, if not in this lifetime but perhaps in the next.”

She cracked open the egg by pounding it on the cement, sucking out the contents. Animals using tools, fascinating!

This morning upon arising no less than 10 helmeted guinea-fowl were on the veranda hoping for seeds and once they left, francolins, Frank and The Misses were looking in the glass of the veranda’s sliding door  wondering when we’d be coming out to toss some bird seeds. It took us no time at all.

Life is good. We have WiFi, power, the high today will only be 92F, 33C, as we wait in anticipation of who may come to call in the next 12 hours, as we embrace our surroundings in the bush.

Be well.

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

Five years ago in 2016, we spent three months in New Plymouth, New Zealand living on an alpaca farm. In the early evening, a group of the babies got together to play, running through the paddock, making us laugh over their playful antics. For the year-ago post, please click here.

Day #266 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Friends…Pigs in a pile, too!…

Little told his friend that the “pickins” were good at this house so they both climbed the six steps up to the veranda to the front door. 

Today’s photos which we enthusiastically share for a chuckle, are from this date in 2018 while we were staying in Marloth Park for a period of 15 months. For more on the post, please click here.

Friends. It’s rather amazing to be blessed with good friends. Without them, our lives would be totally different. Daily, we communicate with friends, via email, text, and social media, many from our old lives and new friends we’ve made along the way in our travels.

The Big Daddies didn’t seem as interested in the lucerne as the female kudus, but this one managed a mouthful.

The two places in the world where we made the most friends, were in Princeville, Kauai, Hawaii in 2015, and in Marloth Park, South Africa in 2013/2014 and 2018/2019. No doubt, an influencing factor in returning to South Africa, is due to the number of friends we made there, most of whom we’ve stayed in close touch since we left in May 2019, 20 months ago.

Knowing we’ll be able to spend time with so many of those friends when we hopefully arrive soon, only adds to the excitement of getting out of this hotel room after 10 months (as of our scheduled departure day on January 12, 2021). We realize that COVID-19 restrictions will be in place, even in the relatively safe Marloth Park, such as mask-wearing, social distancing, hand washing, etc.

“Pigs on the porch,” Pigs in the pond,” and Pigs in a pile,” and “Pigs in the parlor.” It’s “Pig Paradise in the Park.”

Will we be able to hug our friends when we will see them next month? We aren’t sure at this point. I suppose doing so will be predicated by the presence of COVID-19 upon our arrival, which can change on a dime. At this point, there are few known cases in MP and certainly no major outbreak, but we will remain cautious, even in the presence of the people we know and love.

With Marloth Park a popular tourist location, an outbreak could happen at any moment. We wonder if we’ll be able to go to Jabula for dinner, although they have ample outdoor seating. It’s one of those scenarios, we’ll simply have to play by ear. But, without question, our top priority will be protecting ourselves and, if it limits socializing and dining out, so be it.

“Little” was checking out what the kudus were eating. 

Our animal friends will surely visit in any case. The thought of sitting outdoors awaiting their arrival is a massive appeal and comfort to us now, a far cry from being stuck in this room a day longer than we have to. Speaking of wildlife and friends, I couldn’t resist posting today’s main photo of our friend Little, champion warthog, bringing a friend with him to visit us at our bush house in 2018, to share the bounty we so freely offered on a daily basis.

We laughed out loud then and over again over the past 20 months from this unique scenario many times. I think it’s easy for us humans to think we are the only creatures on earth possessing the depth of emotion to develop friendships with our own species. And yet, we’ve often seen this ability to make friends in our pets, for us, most often dogs.

Piglets in a pile.

In our old lives, we often laughed over the friends our dogs made over the years. We lived on a private road, not requiring our dogs to be on a leash, with just about every house on the peninsula with friendly little dogs. Some became friends with our dogs and others did not. But, it was not uncommon for us or our neighbors to have ours and their dogs in our houses visiting one another.

Some animals in the wild are no different. They find companions that they become attached to as much as their own family members, especially, as we’ve witnessed after spending considerable time in the bush observing wildlife on a daily basis. Most often, we observed this behavior in warthogs, often two females with or without piglets and males who often visited in pairs rather than large groups.

A male ostrich’s flattened feathers after a downpour.

They may, or may not, be related. Many species of wildlife hang out together in large family groups such as impalas and mongoose, giraffes, and others, while many twosomes we observed were actually mating pairs. But warthogs, pigs, are always rated in various studies as one of the smartest animals in the animal kingdom as indicated in this article. Pigs are reportedly smarter than dogs. And we all know how smart our dogs are!

In any case, we’ll be back amongst “friends” both human and animal, in a mere 30 days. We hope.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, December 14, 2019:

We sat outside on the veranda several times during our stay in Apache Junction, Arizona, frequently using the gas grill. The weather is warm and sunny most days. For more photos, please click here.

Day #254 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Looking forward…Funny photos…

Little decided to check out the inside of the house. I was in the kitchen chopping vegetables when he entered and looked up to see this! Neither of us couldn’t stop laughing about this for days. A few days later another exciting visit occurred. Check back for that photo soon for a hearty laugh.

Today’s photos are from a post on this date in 2018 while living in Marloth Park and experiencing our favorite all-time warthog experience. Bear with me as we share this one more time, laughing all the while. See the link and a video here.

I struggled a little with the thought I might be boring our readers one more time while re-sharing, my favorite post from South Africa in 2018. The heading for the post was as follows:

Pig on the porch…Pig in the parlor…Warthog “Little” comes to call…

The previous day, Little gingerly climbed several steps up to the veranda, looking for pellets.

It was this very experience that left me reminiscing all this time while in lockdown in India for the past eight months, thinking about how much we miss living in the bush. It was only a short time later, we had a similar heading reading:  “Pig on the porch…Pig in the Parlor…Pig in the pond,” when our favorite warthog, Little did all three in one day, also adding lounging in the cement pond to cool off on a hot day.

For our new readers, we named him “Little” due to his tiny tusks when other warthogs of his size generally had much bigger tusks. After using his name over and over, he came to know it. I could call out in the garden when he was nearby and he’d come running.

Once he was situated, we brought him some fruit and veg.

Pigs are known to be smarter than dogs:

“Pigs are smarter than any other domestic animal. Their ability to solve problems, like the pig I.Q. test on The Joy of Pigs, is well-documented, and they are considered by animal experts to be more trainable than dogs or cats. … Pigs are difficult to classify.”

I sat quietly in the chair next to him, wanting to make him feel at ease.

For a PBS story on pigs and their abilities and intellect, please click here. People underestimate the intelligence and learning ability of pigs but as a lifetime pig enthusiast, I knew they were trainable and never hesitated to teach “Little” and a few other favorite warthogs in Marloth Park to respond to my voice, a somewhat high pitched squeal of my own.

Little became so attached to me and I to him, that he’d look into my eyes (warthogs have poor vision) while I spoke to him before he’d ever touch any pellets, carrots, and apples, I may have dropped on the ground at his feet. I fell in love with a pig. Throughout each day and night, my eyes scanned the garden looking for him. But, he easily made himself well known to me each time he arrived by snorting and digging up the dirt in the garden.

That day, he was determined when he climbed the steps, feeling more at “home.” He’s come up the steps to the veranda a few times in the prior weeks but then, it had been two consecutive days. 

On this date in 2018, when I was busy inside the house chopping carrots and apples for our wildlife visitors. It was summer during a drought. There was barely any vegetation for the animals in the conservancy and most homeowners and visitors purchased game-warden approved pellets, lucerne (hay), and vegetables to supplement their sparse diet during these difficult times.

Sure, some animal activists complain we shouldn’t feed wild animals and I get this concept. But, watching them die from starvation and thirst made no sense when most of us occupants in Marloth Park were more than willing to spend money and take time to feed them until the bush was lush again after the rains.

There’s always time in his busy schedule for a pellet break.

None of the wildlife we observed ever stopped grazing when everything was green again. But, coming to us for pellets seemed to be the same as giving your dog a treat. They grazed, drank from the cement pond which we kept clean with fresh water, and still stopped by for some pellets.

But, not only did Little and the other warthogs bring us considerable entertainment and laughter, other wildlife touched our hearts every single day. The thought of returning to such daily adventures warms our hearts. Will we see Little again? Warthogs wander for miles each day and it is possible he will find us again in our new location. Now, we can only hope and pray we’ll be able to get there in 41 days.

Little contemplating a nap after his big meal. He actually slept for about an hour.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, December 2, 2019:

It was six years ago today that Tom was checking out the views from one of the two houses we rented in Pahoa, Big Island, Hawaii. Only days later our family began to arrive for the holidays. For more, please click here.

Today, we depart!…Love and understanding in two different worlds, yet in one…

The second time he came up the steps he was a little more brazen and came right into the house, while we were sitting on the sofa and didn’t see him right away.  We howled.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Mutton Chops and Scar Face stopped by many times but we haven’t seen them in months after Basket chased them and Tusker out of our garden.  Now Basket visits with his new girlfriend with whom he actually shares the pellets.

It’s 11:00 am and we’re packed and ready.  All we have left to do is to close the bags and weigh them on our portable scale.  Once we sort out any overweight discrepancies, if necessary, we’ll remove some items and place them in the duffle bag along with a few odds and ends.

Little, tentatively climbing the steps to the veranda for a few pellets we gave him when we found him kneeling like this from the top step.

I’ve managed to fit all of my clothes in my one suitcase after giving Zef a huge plastic bag filled with clothing I’d never wear again, some too low cut for the big scar on my chest and others not appropriate for any of our ongoing travels.

Little, “Pig in a Pond.”

But, today’s story isn’t about packing or medical issues nor will future posts be about such over the upcoming months.  With the doctor confirming that my leg is healing sufficiently and that we won’t need further care at a wound clinic, we can manage the care on our own.  Yesterday, we purchased all the necessary supplies.  


Every other day, we’ll clean the wound, apply the cream and bandages and it should heal within three months or sooner.  It continues to be painful but I can live with that, as long as I know it’s on the mend.


Today’s story and photos brought tears to my eyes.  Last night when we were out to dinner with Kathy, Don, Linda, and Ken, Don asked me, “What is your best memory from the past 15 months, excluding good times with friends?”
I began to answer but the table of us became distracted by a young man from Holland who stopped by to say hello and share a drink with the boys.  

His feet were muddy and he made a mess but we didn’t care.  It was Little, coming to call.

Quietly, I sat at the head of the table with Kathy on my right and Linda on my left, my girls, along with Louise and many others, who kept me holding it together these past months.  (I toasted them, alcohol-free, on Thursday night at the dinner table with tears in my eyes).


The answer to Don’s question lingered in the air, unanswered but surely, this group of friends (including Tom) knew exactly how I’d answer.  My answer wasn’t necessary, especially knowing most of them will read this final post from Marloth Park.


It was Little.   


Pigs are actually considered the fifth-most intelligent animal in the world—even more intelligent than dogs—and are capable of playing video games with more focus and success than chimps! They also have excellent object-location memory. If they find grub in one spot, they’ll remember to look there next time.”

He was nervous at first, as he wondered if this was acceptable.

Was it his intellect or sensitivity that attracted me to him from the first time we saw him over a year ago?  Most likely it was both.  When I looked into his eyes and spoke to him in a soft loving voice, in time he’d actually stop eating the pellets to listen to me.
                                             
His response so much reminded me of the amazing interactions we had with our dogs over the years.  They listened when we spoke, often tilting their heads from side to side trying desperately to decipher the meanings of our words, our tone, and our demeanor.


Over time and countless interactions, this very same behavior from Little became evident to me in many ways.  He’d often look for me, to the point, he’d climb the treacherous slippery tile steps from the garden to the veranda traversing the steps, back and forth in order to maintain a foothold. 
                                  

Video of Little in the house.

His spikey toenails are used for digging up roots, not necessarily for climbing on slippery surfaces.  He took the risk of stumbling down those dangerous steps to see me.  No doubt, pellets were also on his mind, but we’d gladly toss pellets to him in the garden, all he could eat.  It wasn’t necessary for him to climb the steps.


The look on his face when he stood in the doorway on many occasions, was sheepish, often like that of a dog that knew the possibility of reprimand was at hand. And in his intelligence, he chose to take the risk, knowing full well it would be worth it.  I’ll miss him.  He’ll miss me.

Once he realized he was welcome, he settled in for a long nap.

He wasn’t as attached to Tom since on a few occasions when he was very muddy Tom shooed him off the veranda, scolding him.  He didn’t forget this scolding but it didn’t stop him from trying over and over again.


In the past several days he’s come to call many times.  Does he know we’re leaving?  Didn’t our dogs and cats become anxious when they sensed we were going away?  Pigs are smarter and more sensitive than dogs and cats.  Why would they not sense such a departure, such a loss?


During his visits in the past week when I’ve finally been able to walk to the edge of the veranda to see him, (he heard my voice many times during my recovery but hadn’t laid eyes on me), those beady little eyes were so intent and serious when we made eye contact, that I found myself in tears, knowing we’d be leaving soon.

A few days after Little’s first visit inside the house, he brought a friend to show him the goodies.  We aptly named his friend “Little’s Friend” and he often visits on his own and now responds to his name.

As I spoke to him in familiar words I often repeated his shook his head from side to side, acknowledging our connection.  I’d say, “Is that you, Little?” or “Little’s a big boy?” or “How’s my boy today?”  And, if pigs could smile, he would have.  I smiled for both of us.


Now, we go, we carry on, with memories of this magical place, these magical and mysterious animals whom we’ve come to know and love and we leave nothing behind.


With us, always in our hearts, will be the memories that we’ll carry with us, tales we’ll share with others who  will look dumbfounded when we try to explain the power and meaning of Marloth Park and these special relationships.

Little has brought us so many laughs and so much joy.  When I talk to him, he shakes his head in acknowledgment, not unlike a dog or cat would do.  Pigs are listed to be smarter than dogs.  Why wouldn’t they relate to us in the way our pets do?

I realize I can’t hold the attention with tales of Little at a table for 10 during dinner on a cruise ship.  But I can always smile to myself as the tears well up in my eyes over the memories of this special friend, in this special place and during this special time.


Goodbye Little.  Goodbye, Little’s Friend, Frank, and the Mrs., Cupid, Big Daddies, Wart Face, Scar Face, Wounded, Basket, Tusker, Wildebeest Willie; Ms. Bushbuck; zebras, giraffes, lizards, Froggie, Mom & Babies, Sigfried and Roy, Mike and Joe, hornbills and many more.  We’ll miss you all.


It was Little.

______________________________________



Photo from one year ago today, May 11, 2018:

Around 2:00 pm on Friday, one year ago today, we arrived at the Harry Mwanga Nkumbula International Airport in Livingstone, Zambia. For more photos, please click here.

It’s a new day…It’s a new dawn…A practical warning…

Big Daddy, so majestic.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

This particular oxpecker is different from those we’ve seen with orange beaks.

It’s not over.  I still have a long way to go to be fully recovered.  However, yesterday everything changed when I hit the six-week mark (since the triple bypass surgery) and was able to stop wearing the compression stockings.


No words can describe the relief I felt when as of yesterday, I didn’t have to wear those tight impossible-to-put-on compression stockings constantly pressing on the still open incisions in my legs, especially near my ankles where the infection has been the worst.

Now, I’m only wearing the bandages, applied after cleansing and applying antibiotic ointment twice a day to keep dust and dirt away from the incisions.  I only remove the bandages for a few minutes each day and stay far from the dust kicked up in the garden by the wildlife until I complete the treatment and cover the wounds.
Zebras stop by almost daily.

The infections are gone.  My right thigh is completely healed and I expect my two legs from knee to ankle will entirely close within a week or so.  While the incisions are still open, it’s still painful but not nearly as bad as it was a few weeks ago.  

I take only two non-narcotic pain tablets a day, one in the morning upon awakening and then again at 10:30 pm before I go to sleep.  No pain medication is needed during the day.  

My chest will take months to entirely heal.  Ribs had been cut on the left chest during the surgery as well as the sternum in order to freely access the heart.  I feel no rib pain at this point but the sternum, a large bone, is still on the mend.  


When riding in the car, the seatbelt across my chest is painful.  We bring a pillow along to strap in front of me.  This helps on bumpy roads as well.  I can’t imagine during our remaining 45 days in Marloth Park, that our former almost daily drives to the Crocodile River will be possible.  The dirt roads are filled with potholes and way to bumpy for me.

Baby piglet estranged from his family visits daily now that he’s on his own.

However, when visiting friends, Tom takes the best route to avoid as much bouncing around as possible.  Again, with the pillow pressed to my chest its doable.

As for energy…I have more than my body will allow.  Thus, I do as much as I can, pushing a little harder each day.  The walking is now back up to 30 minutes a day and will reach 40 minutes by the week’s end.  Within a week or two I’ll be able to walk 60 minutes each day on flat surfaces.  


For now, I’m walking in the house.  Here again, the bumpy dirt roads aren’t a safe option for anyone to walk let alone me, during this period.  When we’re in Ireland in 45 days I’ll be able to walk on the beach or the local roads.  Surely, in time I’ll be able to navigate some of the hilly roads they are in our new neighborhood.

This morning, when I fell back to sleep at 4:00 am, I had a dream I was having trouble breathing and thought (in the dream) I was having an asthma attack.  Asthma is another of those hereditary conditions I developed as a child but have had under control as an adult.  

Check out the muscles on this huge animal.

Before the surgery, I had been using a preventive daily steroid medication, Advair, since I’d noticed I was having trouble breathing.  This helped a little but not entirely.  I assumed the dust kicked up by the animals was the culprit.


Since the operation, I haven’t had to use the inhaler once.  I wasn’t able to breathe because my heart wasn’t pumping enough blood into my lungs.  It was logical for me to assume it was asthma.  

As time goes on, I’ve begun to remember more and more situations where I thought my symptoms were something else, when in fact, it was my heart, unable to fully do its job.  

While working out at a health club all those years I often struggled with a fast pulse and breathing issues.  Little did I know, nor did I ever think, that my arteries were clogged.  The doctors say the progression of the three 100% blocked arteries took place over many years, often as much as 30 years. I had no idea.

Heart disease isn’t always about sudden chest pain and one thinking they’re having a heart attack.  As my case illustrates it was insidious with few distinct symptoms.

I share all of these details hoping to inspire our readers to see their doctor to arrange a stress test

From this site:
“Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S. and also the leading cause of death worldwide.  Heart disease is a term used to describe several conditions, many of which are related to plaque buildup in the walls of the arteries.   As the plaque builds up, the arteries narrow, this makes it more difficult for blood to flow and creates a risk for heart attack or stroke.

Ms. Kudu wondering when more pellets will come her way.  We see several forkls of kudus each day.

Cancer is the second cause of death but some are proactive in having various tests to determine if they’re at risk: coloscopies, prostate screening, pap smear, mammograms, biopsies for suspicious lumps and skin checks.  

Most people, without obvious symptoms of heart disease, don’t bother to see if they’re at risk.  Heredity in both of these dreadful diseases is a huge risk factor but so are numerous lifestyle choices.

My case is a perfect example of how easy it is to assume there’s no reason to have a stress test done to determine if further tests are necessary.  How many people actually know what an angiogram is, the gold standard of determining how badly heart disease has progressed?

Obviously, this invasive and costly test is not necessary if one’s stress test results are good.  Mine indicated an issue but not the detail needed to determine the extent of the damage and future risk.

From this site:  “Atherosclerosis is a disease in which plaque builds up inside your arteries. Arteries are blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood to your heart and other parts of your body. Plaque is made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances found in the blood. Over time, plaque hardens and narrows your arteries.”

For many with partially clogged arteries, stents are a great life-saving option, done during an angiogram, subsequently called an angioplasty.  

From this site “Stents help keep coronary arteries open and reduce the chance of a heart attack. A stent is inserted into the clogged artery with a balloon catheter. The balloon is inflated and the stent expands and locks in place. This holds the artery open and allows blood to flow more freely.”

The male kudu is a distinguished animal with considerable grace and ease as he moves through the bush.  He’s well aware of his massive racks and taps it on the ground near any other wildlife attempting to provoke him.

Please note, I am not intending to scare our readers.  But if one reader is inspired to get checked, all this “heart” talk in many posts will have been worth it.  

After reading many comments in a variety of online forums, for those who experienced coronary bypass surgery, many have said if they’d know how hard the recovery would be they would have taken their chances and not have the surgery.

We’re talking about saving one’s life. This operation is not done willy nilly as a preventive means.  It’s always about dealing with a life-threatening situation.  For me, it was a no-brainer, surgery or die.  I chose Life.

And as hard as these past six weeks have been, I’d do it all over again.  It’s not over yet, the boost I’m getting from one great day, starting yesterday, could ultimately prove to be a teaser with many more months of recovery on the horizon.

But each day, I’ll carry on with sheer will and determination, taking extra care, following doctor’s orders and striving to have many more years of adventure and world travel with my lover, partner, and friend, Tom.

Oh, oh, gotta go. Little is looking for me!

Have a great day!

_______________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, March 27, 2018:

We didn’t recall seeing a warthog this tiny since this post in Kenya in 2013. when a mom placed her babies in a hole to protect them from lions that were in place for the kill.  For more details, please click here.

Paperwork overload…How does everyone do it?…

This is my boy, Little.  How does a human being fall in love with a pig?

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

A young male kudu and Little are watching the mongoose eat some meat we tossed out.  Kudus and warthogs are herbivores, although warthogs will go after a bone now and then, mainly for the nutrients in the bone marrow.

This morning I received an email from Jury Duty in Clark County Court in Nevada.  I’d written an appropriate letter explaining my recent surgery and that I couldn’t leave South Africa in time to meet the April 15th call to jury duty.  


In most cases, being out of the country is sufficient cause for dismissal. Apparently, I needed better proof than my sworn statement. What’s the purpose of a sworn statement if they don’t believe you?

This morning I sent them two letters from the cardiologist, hoping this will suffice.  If it doesn’t, a warrant will be issued for my arrest.  Gee…would I have had to die in order to be excused?
Young kudus in the garden.
With a problem with the connection with our two-year-old portable scanner, it took me no less than 30 minutes to get the letters scanned and sent by email. What if I didn’t have a scanner and was housebound for medical reasons?  

Not everyone has someone who can help them with such tasks.  Of course, we’re fortunate to have access to technology that can expedite such a situation, even with its current technical difficulties.

Paperwork slays me.  There’s no escaping it, is there?  I often wonder how folks who don’t speak English, seniors with dementia or other medical issues can complete all the paperwork required in their daily lives. 
When the pellets were gone, they trotted off.  Kudus tend to leave when there’s nothing left to eat while others can hang around for a while, especially warthogs, who are patient and know someone else will be coming soon and more pellets will be tossed.
Next, as soon as the insurance company pays the hospital bill, supposedly, at the end of this month, I have to get to work to complete complicated forms and scan more documents in order to submit a claim for reimbursement from the insurance company for the angiogram part of the hospital bill.  

We paid the angiogram bill out of pocket on February 7th which was a separate claim from the bypass surgery, transpiring five days apart.  

We’re waiting to submit the claim after they pay the bigger bill of approximately ZAR 770000 (US $53,551) at the end of the month.  The angiogram bill which we paid in full was for ZAR 80000 (US $5562) for which we are responsible for a co-pay of ZAR 228743 (US$2000) for the co-pay.  
These baby kudus were born this season.
Thus, we’re hoping to get back the difference after the co-pay.  We’ll see how that works out.  Of course, now the insurance company has doubled our rate to continue insuring us.  Today, we’ll know if they are going to exclude any possible heart-related incidents in the future.

Then, at the end of January, we asked our bank to mail us, via Fed Ex International (not US Postal Service), our new debit cards which will expire on March 31st.  They were expected to be here no later than the middle of March.  

Alas, we called the bank to discover they weren’t sent, as promised by Fed Ex International (which we would have received in a maximum of 10 days since the shipment date) but instead were sent by US Postal Service which we specifically stated wouldn’t work here in South Africa.  
Check out the tiny babies in this band of mongoose.
After spending over an hour on the phone with the bank, finally, they canceled the cards that hadn’t arrived and issued two new cards to arrive as requested.  We should receive them by April 6th.  We’ll see how that goes.  As of March 31st, we won’t have a working debit card between us.  Mine expired at the end of February.   
                                                                                    
Next, as soon as the insurance company pays the hospital bill we have to return the funds we borrowed from ourselves from our retirement plan to pay the hospital bill if they didn’t come through.  

We have to return that money to the fund in 60 days from the original withdrawal date to avoid paying taxes on the amount.  Oh, good grief.  It’s not as easy as sending them a check.  More paperwork is required.  Tom will handle this.
We’ve had zebras stop by almost every day.  They are definitely in the “eat and run” category.
Then, before too long, I’ll need to get our taxes ready for the accountant. We’ll have to file an extension this time.  I don’t feel up to doing the tax stuff right now.

The list goes on and on.  We always say, “You can run but you can’t hide.”  If we were living under a palm tree on a desert island weaving baskets, we’d still have paperwork to do!
May you have a paperwork-free day!                                                                                                

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Photo from one year ago today, March 26, 2018:

Tom calls them Guinea Hens, making me laugh.  They cluck a bit like a combination of turkeys and chickens.  For more photos, please click here.

Trying to get back into the groove…

 
This forkl of kudus consisted of three boys and two girls.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Two Big Daddies sharing celery tops and pellets.

It would be nice if we could head out in air-conditioned comfort in search of wildlife along the Crocodile River.  At this point, I can’t imagine bouncing around in the little red car on the outrageously bumpy roads for any length of time.  


The few trips we’ve embarked upon only required a few minutes on the bad dirt roads as I held a pillow close to my chest. Any more than that would be difficult to take. “They” (whoever they are) say the breastbone fuses and heals in six to eight weeks.  

Tomorrow will be six weeks since the dreadful surgery and although I don’t have chronic pain in my chest, each time I reach for something I feel a sudden burst of pain.  It’s definitely not totally healed and for now, it feels as if it could be months in order to be free from discomfort.
Such a handsome kudu bull.

If my legs were totally healed I could declare I am feeling pretty good overall although most task I perform wear me out.  Also, I can’t seem to stand on my feet for very long, hoping this will improve over time.


This morning Tom and I got to work preparing dinner to last for the next three nights, one of our favorite dishes, Low Carb Chicken Pot Pie with an Almond Flour Crust.  We both were feeling like some “comfort food” even with the heat and humidity we’re continuing to experience.  


Fall began four days ago and with it, we’re hoping it will soon cool down.  Lately, the humidity has been impossible, especially with all the rain.  The many power outages add to the discomfort level when we can’t use a fan in the lounge or aircon in the bedroom.

It’s not unusual to see a few Big Daddies behaving as close “friends.”  We see this in many species.

This morning Linda sent me a letter Eskom posted today stating there won’t be any outages this week.  That will be nice if they follow through which seldom occurs.  Next week will be another matter.


This week we’ll continue to focus on my recovery with no major plans on the horizon.  On Friday, we return to Nelspruit for the second post-op appointment with the cardiac thoracic surgeon.  On April 8th we return to meet with the cardiologist.


Tomorrow will be the last day I have to wear the compression stockings, a full six weeks after the surgery.  I feel confident my legs will heal better without the tightness of the stockings on the incisions, especially where the infections are close to my ankles.  The stockings irritate the wounds each step I take.


Without the stockings, I’m hoping to be able to increase the walking in order to return to the previous  40 minutes daily I’d worked up to prior to the infections setting in.   By this time next week, I plan to be able to begin escalating the walking time from 40 to 60 minutes a day.  Also, it will be easier to walk as the weather hopefully cools down a bit.


Once we get to Ireland in 47 days, I’ll join a local fitness center which is the best environment for me to maintain a regular fitness program.  I’ve never enjoyed exercising from “home” (wherever that may be at this time in our lives).  There are no fitness centers within a 75-minute drive from Marloth Park.


Have a lovely Monday!

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

At such a distance, it was difficult to get a clearer photo but we were none the less thrilled to get photos of this hippo.  For more details, please click here.

What???…Let nature take it course???…

Although a male, Fourth Babby’s warts haven’t fully developed.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Four species in one photo; bushbuck, kudu, duiker and Fourth Baby.

There are two statements at the top of my list that are frequently used that I consider cringe-worthy.  They are:

  • Sorry for your loss (when a loved one passes away)
  • Let nature take its course (when an animal is injured or ill)
The “sorry for your loss” makes me want to scream.  It’s become a “canned” comment for those who don’t want to take a moment to express their empathy for the living with a more inventive phrase.  How about, “I so sorry to hear you lost dear Bill.  He was a wonderful man, we’ll all miss.”  Or, my heartfelt sympathies over you losing Mary.  This is truly a sorrowful time for you and all of her loved ones.” 

As for “let nature takes its course,” oh, good grief this is a tired and overused comment when one can’t be vulnerable enough to express how a suffering animal makes us sad or feeling helpless.  Isn’t it acceptable to say, “I wish we could do something to help or…is there something we can do to help?”  And then, do it if possible.
He often sits in this goofy pose when eating pellets.  This was how we knew it was him.  The others kneel but don’t set their butt down while eating.
Or perhaps, when circumstances are such where we cannot help the poor animal, “I am sad to see this creature suffering” or, “It breaks my heart to see any living being suffering.”  No one in your presence will think less of you for these types of statements.

Almost every time we’ve been on a safari with others, we encounter one of the passengers in the vehicle saying, “Let nature take its course.”  When seeing photos of injured animals on Facebook or other social media, some of which we’ve posted, invariably a viewer writes, “Let nature take its course.”

Sure this statement is true.  Nature will take its course in due time or, the animal will recover.  Many wildlife species seem to be sturdy and are able to recover from serious injury.  We’ve seen warthogs bodies and faces so badly mauled, most likely from altercations with other warthogs, that we thought the wound would become infected and they’d eventually die.
Two weeks ago we spotted “Fourth Baby” alone in the garden.
But, alas a few months pass and they’ve begun to heal using mud and often maggots as a means of treatment.  How adaptable they are!  Us humans, left in the wild would hardly be resourceful enough to save ourselves if we didn’t have survival training.

Would we say about a human who is injured or ill, “Let nature takes its  course?”  How would those around us think of us?  How would we think of our heartless selves if we freely and truly felt this way?”  Not much.

Recently, I’ve heard and read Marloth Park residents and visitors saying, in regard to kudus with obvious signs of tuberculosis, “Let nature take its course.”

That is ridiculous!  TB is highly contagious and if not dealt with by means of medical treatment or euthanasia, eventually all the kudus and other species could die off in Marloth Park or even in massive Kruger National Park.  

None of the other mind sharing pellets with him.

Nature taking its course has resulted in entire species becoming extinct, let alone the entire eradication of species due to human intervention and blatant disregard for saving wildlife for future generations to appreciate and revere.

Recently, a little warthog, about six months old, was separated from its core group.  We referred to them as, “Mom and Babies” especially when verbally acknowledging them from our veranda using my irritating-to-some, animal-speak voice. 

A few weeks we noticed the Mom and Babies now consisted of only three babies, not the usual four.  They’d been coming here daily since the piglets were no more than a week old.  Easily, we’ve come to recognize the mom and the four little pigs.  Now there were only three.

Sadly, we speculated that the fourth piglet may have been run over by a car, fell under the prey of a dangerous cat that had entered Marloth Park or succumbed to an injury after being chased and injured in a fight with an adult warthog, usually an aggressive adult male such a “Basket” who is known to chase piglets when there’s food around.



At six months, warthogs are weaned and fending for themselves for sustenance, although they may stay with the mom and the other piglets until she’s ready to deliver her next litter. The siblings may remain together for extended periods until they are fully mature and begin their search for a mate to have a family of their own.


We’ve often seen mom warthogs with another adult female who perhaps is yet to find a mate of her own.  Often males hang together for extended periods, such as Mike and Joe and, Sigfreid and Roy, who’ve been together as pairs since we arrived over 13 months ago.  They may stay together for life which can be upwards of 15 years.

We’re hoping that at some point he’ll reunite with his family.

As for the missing fourth baby, a few weeks ago, he, by himself showed up in the yard.  We knew him right away.  After all, we’d been observing the five of them for over six months.  He knew how to ask for pellets and oddly, he was the only one of the four piglets that always ate lying down with his front legs tucked under in the usual warthog kneeling position when eating.


Did he get lost from his little family or did the mom send him on his way?  We’ll never know for sure.  However, he now stops by every day and so does the mom and three babies but always, so far, at different times.  We’re hoping to see them reunite at some point, especially if he’d been lost from the group.


So, now, this little guy fends for himself and hopefully acquired enough skill from the time he spent with his mother learning how to forage for food, dig for roots and plead with residents for a few pellets here and there.  In this case, we can say, “Let nature take its course” when we feel confident this little guy will figure it out on his own.


The question remains in the minds of many that humans are superior to animals.  But, after spending the majority of the past 13 plus months observing wildlife in our garden and in Kruger National Park, we’ve far surpassed this mentality.  


We all have a purpose and make a contribution to the world around us and we pray that understanding and compassion for all living beings supersedes all other perceptions of where we stand in the pecking order. 


We’re all important.

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

Waterbucks at the Crocodile River.   For more photos, please click here

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

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

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

A second visit from the thick-tailed bushbaby.

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

Pig on the porch…Pig in the parlor…Warthog “Little” comes to call…

This is “Little” entering the parlor looking for the bags of pellets! Funny!
Little decided to check out the inside of the house. I was in the kitchen chopping vegetables when he entered and looked up to see this! We both couldn’t stop laughing.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Adorable young duiker has become more at ease approaching the veranda for pellets. As the smallest in the antelope family, they are often the last to be able to eat when the larger animals chase them off. Whenever we see them alone, we make sure they have plenty on their own.

As our long-time readers are well aware, I love pigs. They are intelligent and readily make eye contact with deep expression and, they appear to have an excellent memory:
Pigs are actually considered the fifth-most intelligent animal in the world—even more intelligent than dogs—and are capable of playing video games with more focus and success than chimps! They also have excellent object-location memory.”

Yesterday, Little gingerly climbed the several steps up to the veranda, looking for pellets.

We can’t underestimate their ability to interact with us, not unlike a dog or other domesticated animal. No doubt, warthogs are not domesticated, and nor are we purporting they should be especially warthogs who thrive in a life in the wild foraging for food, mating, and raising piglets to adulthood.

Once he was situated, we brought him some fruit and veg.

With the recent visits of the mom and four piglets, we’ve witnessed a loving and attentive mother, concerned for the well-being of her young, to the point of putting her own life at risk. We’ve watched her chase off bigger and stronger male warthogs to ensure her piglets get in on the pellet action.

I sat quietly in the chair next to him, wanting to make him feel at ease.

But today’s story is about Little, a warthog who’s been visiting us for the past six months. His gentle soul and good nature with other animals, while sharing the pellets has astounded us, making him hold a special place in our hearts.

This was yesterday afternoon after he’d climbed the steps to the veranda.  He ate some pellets and left. But today, was an entirely new scenario as shown in our video and photos.

When we first saw him enter the cement pond a few months ago, he endeared himself to us further. He splashes around in the tiny pond cooling off on a very hot day, often putting his face underwater while taking a big gulp of the water we keep clean. Well, as clean as you can keep a pond clean that a pig swims in. Our pond is emptied and cleaned once a week. 

Little doesn’t care for lettuce, but likes pellets, carrots, apples, and pears.

Since that time, he’s visited many times on hot days to do the same. He easily knows his name and looks up at us when we call him. His expressions are of great interest and curiosity. We have no doubt he is the same when he visits other bush homes in Marloth Park.

What originally inspired me in 2012, to convince Tom, we needed to come to Marloth Park was a photo Louise had on her website of a pig, napping in front of a fireplace in a bush home.  

Today, he was determined when he climbed the steps, feeling more at “home.” He’s come up the steps to the veranda a few times in the past weeks but now, it’s been two consecutive days. Maybe this will become a regular part of his almost daily visits.

That single photo inspired me so much, I literally had to plead with Tom to “step outside the box” in our upcoming travels and stay in this wildlife conservancy for at least three months.  

As warthogs do, he was on his knees eating.  They have long snouts so nature provided tough knee pads to allow them to scoot around on the knees gathering morsels of food.

Coincidentally, we arrived in Marloth Park on December 2, 2013, five years ago today. See that post here. Our first official visit at the Hornbill house was a warthog as shown in this photo below.

At the Hornbill house less than a half-hour after we arrived, this warthog stopped by to welcome us to the neighborhood. He was our first official visitor. For all we know, we’ve seen this warthog during these past many months since our return. They may live as long as 17 years.

Returning to Marloth Park this past February, my greatest enthusiasm surrounded the opportunity to interact with these funny creatures once again. And, have we ever. There are many warthogs, we recognize and who know us as the generous pellet providers.  

When the pellets are consumed, he waits patiently for more.  Although, a few times, he nudged me with his nose.

Sure, they visit for the food.  We have no delusions that the single biggest motivator for them, including Little, is to regularly return to our garden.  But, in our heart of hearts, we see their continuing interest in us, curious to as to what us humans are all about and possibly gleaning some form of emotional attachment similar to that we experience from dogs.

There’s always time in his busy schedule for a pellet break.

This morning, when Little wandered into the house, this behavior confirmed his curiosity which made us swoon with laughter.  And yes, his powerful sense of smell directed him to bags of pellets resting again the wall in the parlor.  

Little is not so little.  Hee may weigh up to 136 kg, (300 pounds).

Had we left him to his own resources we are certain he’d have torn open the bags and had himself the feast of a lifetime. We cut the video short and sent him back outdoors. He didn’t go easily. This doesn’t imply he was aggressive. He was not.

Little contemplating a nap after his big meal.

But, he hesitated to leave and we had to toss some pellets to the garden to encourage him to make his way back down the steps for one last bowl of pellets until we cut him off…not for good…but for a “Little” while until he returns again.

We can’t stop smiling. Personally, I’m in “pig heaven” today reeling from the wonderful experience.

May your day leave you reeling with wonderfulness!

                                            Photo from one year ago today, December 2, 2017:

Tom is getting to be quite the photographer. But, when I compliment him he says, “Even a stopped watch is correct twice a day!” He’s too modest! For more photos, please click here.