Utility outages...The return of visitors to the garden...More stunning river sightings...

This is "Little" (short for "Little Wart Face").  He visits almost daily.  He'd just returned from eating from the bale of hay left in the neighbor's driveway when they departed after the weekend.  That's why he has grass all over his snout.  He likes to cool off in the cement pond, sleep under the shade of a tree in our garden and climb the veranda steps seeking pellets.  What a guy!
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
Mr. Frog has been enjoying an array of insects most nights which are attracted to the light.  He appears to be getting rather plump.
Yesterday afternoon a water main broke close to Gate 2 in Marloth Park.  Subsequently, we had no water for about 12 hours.  Service returned in the middle of the night.

This morning we had a power outage but fortunately, it only lasted about 10 minutes.  When the power goes out, the wi-fi also goes out.  As always, we shut down our laptops and phones hoping for a return to service before too long.
We were so busy feeding the visitors last night, we hardly had time to make our dinner.  We couldn't stop smiling.
When the power returned we were relieved.  I hope neither of these is an issue with our upcoming dinner party in four days.  It would be difficult to cook a big meal without water or power.

Yesterday, we read a post on Facebook by a homeowner that an area of Marloth Park was without water last December for 21 days.  That would certainly be inconvenient.  
Often warthogs from different "sounders" get into a scuffle over the pellets.
Last night we used a bucket of water from the swimming pool to flush the toilet. This would get old after a day or two.  Of course, the worst part would be when unable to take a shower.  It's not as if there's a local health club where one could go to take a shower.

After all, we're in the bush in Africa and things just aren't the same as they are in many countries throughout the world. And, although there are a number of adaptations one must make, coming from other countries, it isn't really that rough.
There were one male and three female zebras in this "dazzle."
Last night while brushing my teeth a large black bug fell off my head when I bent down to rinse my mouth (using bottled water, as always).  I didn't scream or flinch.  I gently picked it up with a tissue and took it outside to deposit it into the garden.  Years ago I would have called Tom to help and did a bit of screaming.  No longer.
A young Big Daddy attempting to eat some greenery inside the fenced area in the garden.
It must have fallen into my hair while we sat outdoors last night reveling in the numbers of wildlife that came to call.  It wasn't as if we had more than a dozen at any given time but more so that they kept coming and coming, hour after hour.

Recently, I ran into local friend Gail at the market and we giggled over how we never tire of the wildlife.  If anything, as time goes on, we become more and more interested in them, as we learn about them and as time goes by, learn more about the nuances of certain animals.
With just the two of us at Two Trees, Tom spotted this female lion.
As shown above, in our main photo, coming to know the peculiarities and habits of certain visitors only adds to the pleasure and significance of seeing them time after time.

Most days, we see at least one animal that is new to us.  Over this past nine months, we've been able to identify frequent visitors by certain markings, size of tusks, horns, and variations in stripe patterns.  Its now become easy for us to realize someone is new to us.
She may have been perusing the area for her next meal.
We welcome them all, familiar and new, with open arms to partake of our seemingly endless supply of pellets, carrots, apples, and pears which are all suitable foods for them.

A large bull elephant on the river bank.  Check out those tusks!
Today, after friend Kathy stops by and drops off some much-needed ingredients she picked up in the big city, for the upcoming Thanksgiving dinner party on Saturday (thank you, Kathy!), we'll head out for our usual drive in the park to see what wonders Mother Nature may have in store for us.

It will be another good day in the neighborhood!  Hope you all experience the same!


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

Another of Tom's excellent bird photos, two Green Parrots admiring each other.  For more photos, please click here.

What???...A leopard sighting on the Crocodile River?...Giraffes stopping for a drink...

Giraffes are constantly on guard for predators especially when its time to drink when they become vulnerable in a bending position.
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
The convoluted photo is difficult to decipher at first.  Note the one kudu attempting to eat the seeds in the birdfeeder which she eventually accomplished.
While Tom was taking a short nap while I stayed at the table on the veranda finishing the daily post, I took a peek at the Marloth Park River Sightings page on Facebook to see if anyone had posted information regarding exciting sightings.

Alas, a frequent FB poster mentioned a leopard had been sighted 90 minutes earlier at the end of Swartwitpens where it meets the river road.  Now, such a sighting may result in disappointment if too much time has passed and the animal has moved on.
Giraffes often head to the river to drink.
I deliberated if I should awaken Tom but he never sleeps more than 20 minutes so I waited until he exited the bedroom to mention the sighting.  Within two minutes, we were in the little car and on our way.

Once we arrived at the location, we noticed only one other car at the location which could indicate the leopard was gone from view.  Fortunately, we met a lovely couple from Nelspruit who live part-time in Marloth Park, Estelle and Johan.  

We'd never have been able to spot the leopard without their help.  It's a funny thing how people try to explain where to look to spot the animal of interest at the moment.  
Giraffes adopt a variety of stances to gain access to the water.
Nature has provided the most ideal camouflage for wildlife, often making it nearly impossible to see certain animals lying under trees or bushes from the distant fence at Marloth Park all the way across to the opposite side of the Crocodile River.

Rarely, when there any sighting friendly observers often assist others in finding the location of the animal.  It goes like this, "See the two green trees over there with a dry bush between them?  The lion is lying at the base of the tree on the left."  This is usually what seems to be an accurate description.

There were four giraffes in this tower.
However, there are dozens of green trees and dry bushes across the river and even if one points in the correct direction carefully, the animal is often difficult to see.

Both Tom and I have noticed a difference in the way men describe where the animal is located as opposed to women.  When Tom and Lois were here, my Tom would provide a lengthy description explaining where the lion was located.  

On the other hand, when Lois described it, she did so with few words and often, I was more easily able to comprehend the few words as opposed to the lengthy detailed description.  

Stopping to check their surroundings.
We've noticed this phenomenon on other occasions when asking for assistance.  Regardless of what many people want to believe about the sexes thinking alike, its natural for women and men to have different perceptions and different responses.

We see this in nature as well by the varying behaviors of female and male animals that stop by.  For example, the male bushbucks are shy and constantly on guard whereby the females easily approach us without hesitation.

A lone hippo grazing by the river.
The male kudus with their big horns are bossy and determined whereby the females are more docile and quick to approach us.  I could go on and on regarding the varying behaviors of the sexes of wildlife after we've spent the past nine months observing them each and every day.

Its always a challenge, regardless of who is describing where the animal is located to be able to find it, focus the camera for such long distance resulting in a good photo.

Yesterday, at the river, I wasn't ever able to spot the leopard but Tom did so in minutes after Johan described the location to him in several paragraphs.  I was stymied.  None the less, Tom was able to take the two very distant photos we're sharing here today.  
It was only the spots that confirmed this was a leopard lounging under a tree a long distance from the fence between Marloth Park and Kruger.
We're disappointed in the lack of clarity in the photo but this leopard may easily have been a good kilometer from us.  Our skill, nor our cameras were capable of obtaining better shots.

The clearer photos we've seen on Facebook of yesterday's leopard sighting were acquired with long-range lenses which are too heavy and we'll never be able to carry throughout the world with us.  
We waited patiently while chatting with a lovely couple we met at the fence, Johan and Estelle, who said they've been reading our site.
It's one thing to have such a camera set-up at home and be able to use it now and then for special shots.  It's another thing to have the heavy beast everywhere we go...totally impractical.

This morning we headed to Komatipoort to shop for Saturday's upcoming Thanksgiving dinner party.  On the way to Spar, we stopped for breakfast at Stoep Cafe for another fine breakfast and idle chatter.

Now back at the house, everything is put away and we almost have everything we'll need.  On Thursday, we'll return for complete the balance of the shopping after our teeth cleaning and eye doctor appointments.

Have a spectacular day!

Photo from one year ago today, November 12, 2017:
Tom took another excellent distant shot of a bird we couldn't identify online. Costa Rica neighbor and bird enthusiast Charlie identified this bird as a Clay-colored Thrush or Yigüirro in Spanish.  For more photos, please click here.

How did the test pie come out?...See photo below!...

Here's the last piece of the "test" pumpkin pie.  Tom already devoured the remainder.  I didn't make the crust edges as fancy as I will for next Saturday's Thanksgiving dinner.
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
The starlings seem to have made this abandoned bushbaby house their new nest.  We'll see how it goes.
The test pie was a hit.  The first night Tom consumed half the pie and went to bed feeling satisfied but full and bloated.  Last night, after returning from dinner at Jabula and Rita and Girard, he ate half of the remaining ½ of the pie.  Tonight, he'll finish it off.

I must admit, I took a single bite and literally swooned if I say so myself.  Keeping in mind I hadn't had a taste of flour or sugar in over seven years, my taste buds went soaring.  I had to go to bed to prevent me from asking Tom for another bite.
"Little" came back for more pellets on the veranda.  He feels quite at home here.  Who knew pigs climb stairs?
It wasn't easy preparing the filling from a bag of frozen pumpkin.  First I cooked in the microwave from its frozen state in a large glass bowl.  This took a good 30 minutes since the microwave doesn't seem to be able to cook on high.  

Once I could test it to find it was s very soft, I placed it in a colander and pressed out the liquid with a rubber spatula letting it drain for a while to ensure most of the liquid was gone.  
Elephants coming down the embankment to the Crocodile River.
Then, in small batches, I placed it in the food processor in order to make it smooth comparable to canned pumpkin. It was very messy but, it came out nicely.  Then I proceeded to make the pie filling using homemade pumpkin pie spice.
There's always some good vegetation for them to consume on or near the river.
Once that was completed, I made the pie crust from scratch using the best pie crust recipe in the land from Martha Stewart again using the food processor to make it into a perfect ball.  

I pressed the dough into a round disc after wrapping it in parchment paper and let it rest in the refrigerator for an hour.  Using a washed full bottle of wine as a rolling pin, the dough rolled into an even circle with little effort.
The mongooses are also becoming rather brazen as they too come up to the veranda steps to let us know they'd like some eggs.
From there, I pinched a makeshift edge knowing no one else would see it (duh!), filled it with the pumpkin filling and placed it in the oven.  The oven also cooks very low even though it appears to be at a high temperature.  Improvise, I remind myself.  It took 90 minutes for the butter knife to come out clean.  

Mission accomplished.  Now all that was left was the taste test which Tom embarked upon with glee on Friday night.  He hadn't had one of my homemade pumpkin pies in over seven years.
That's one big gulp from the elephant of the left.
I watched his face with bated breath as he took the first bite.  Then, the second. A smile washed over his face and I knew he was content.  The pie passed the test.
So far today, we've yet to see a single kudu, bushbuck or warthog.  Where is everyone?
Making the remaining pies on Friday will take an entire day but its a vital part of the tradition of Thanksgiving dinner.  Although we'll be having roasted stuffed chickens instead of turkey (no turkeys anywhere to be found), otherwise we should be on track thanks to friend Kathy for finding many of the vital ingredients and Louise for finding cranberries and spices on a recent trip to Nelspruit.

It gave me peace of mind to know we'll have good tasting pumpkin pie for next Saturday's dinner.  We'll see how the remainder of the meals works out from there.

Yesterday as often is the case Ms. Bushbuck and Baby stopped by to check out the pellet situation.  
So far today, we haven't seen a single visitor.  We heard there was a live concert in Nelspruit last night by a popular South African performer and most hotels in the area were booked.  
This two-tone giraffe with light and dark spots is taking a rest from standing on those tall legs.
This may have attributed to more holidaymakers coming to stay in Marloth Park over the weekend.  We could tell by the numbers of cars on the roads and the lack of wildlife in the garden that something was up.  This is the first morning in nine months we haven't had a single visitor other than a few birds and Frank and The Mrs.
With less hair on the end of his ossicones, most like this is a male.
Last night, we had another fun, delicious and entertaining evening at Jabula Lodge and Restaurant with Rita and Gerhard who are leaving tomorrow for a few weeks. (Owners Dawn and Leon always add to a great time by laughing and interacting with all of us). 
"Thanks for stopping," she says with somewhat of a smile on her pretty face.
We're looking forward to their return to Marloth where they'll stay for another three months, leaving about the same time we're hoping to leave in February.  The good times will continue.

Today, most likely we'll head out on another drive in the park to see what we can find that may be of interest to us and to our worldwide readers.  Thank you, dear readers, for hanging in there with us over these past nine months. 
Lots of cape buffalos on the river bank.
We arrived here exactly nine months ago today, on February11th and if all goes well, we'll depart in three months, nine days.  We'll see how it rolls out with immigration soon enough.

Happy day to all.
Photo from one year ago today, November 11, 2017:
Another of Tom's wonderful bird photos in Atenas, Costa Rica, in this case, a small green parrot.  For more details, please click here.

A little bit of living in the past?...The world is not a safe place...

Wildebeest Willie often takes a rest in the shade in the garden.
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
Pregnant zebra and friends stopped by for pellets and veg.
It's early Saturday afternoon on another perfect weather day.  Tom's sitting near me at the big table on the veranda is listening to a podcast of his favorite radio show from Minnesota, Garage Logic.  
Our favorite wildebeest, "Wildebeest Willie" will often visit for several hours.  He loves being talked to and won't even touch the pellets I toss until I stop talking to him while making eye contact.
He doesn't need to use an earpiece to listen since I don't mind the background noise.  He keeps it soft I(n consideration of sound restrictions in Marloth Park) which he can hear with his less-than-ideal hearing, damaged after years on the railroad, by placing his laptop on his lap. 

He spent his entire life in Minnesota, up until we started to travel the world in 2012, and is still connected to news and information from his original home state.  
Wildebeest Willie got along well with this young male kudu as they shared pellets.  Willie doesn't care for apples and carrots, only pellets.
In addition, he's still an avid Minnesota Vikings (football) fan and watches each game, streaming from the NFL GamePass website for which he pays an annual fee.  I watch some of the games but usually, I'm busy preparing the daily post when he's watching it.

With the time difference, if a game is played on Sunday, he may watch it late at night or the following morning.  If he watches it the following day, the commercials are removed, which he prefers.
He looks into my eyes when I talk to him in a goofy high pitched voice.  In this photo, he was sharing pellets with impalas.
Having spent a little over 40 years in Minnesota, I don't feel so connected to the state, only to the family and friends who live there.  I grew up mostly in California but other than the fact I still have family there, I feel no connection to that state either.

Speaking of California, we send our love and prayers to those who are dealing with the horrifying wildfires including the sorrowful loss of lives and many homes and businesses. 
Monitor lizard in the garden.
My sister Julie lives in Los Angeles and if the fire isn't contained soon, she may have to evacuate.  We're staying in close touch.  The world is not a safe place.  There are endless natural and human-responsible disasters that impact millions of lives and there is literally nowhere in the world that is entirely safe and free of risk.

Right now, Marloth Park has a tremendous risk of fire.  After all, this is the bush and although it has rained a few times, the bush is dangerously dry.  One careless action and this entire conservancy could be gone in a flash, including its animals and humans, alike.
"Monitor lizards are, as a rule, almost entirely carnivorous, consuming prey as varied as insects, crustaceans, arachnids, myriapods, mollusks, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. Most species feed on invertebrates as juveniles and shift to feeding on vertebrates as adults. Deer make up about 50% of the diet of adults of the largest species, Varanus komodoensis.  In contrast, three arboreal species from the Philippines, Varanus bitatawaVaranus mabitang, and Varanus olivaceus, are primarily fruit eaters. Although normally solitary, groups as large as 25 individual monitor lizards are common in ecosystems that have limited water resources."
At night, we take our car keys to the bedroom to keep on the nightstand next to the bed.  If there's a fire during the night, we have already planned our escape through the bedroom window and will be in the little car in seconds, ready to escape.

Oddly, this house, only has one entrance and exit, the front door.  There is no backdoor or side door from which to escape.  Building restrictions aren't as tight in Africa as they are in other parts of the world that would never approve a building plan without multiple exits.
Elephant at the Crocodile River.
We kept this in mind when we decided on our fast escape route if necessary.  Tom, a former volunteer fireman, makes me feel extra safe.  Who, but a fireman would be the best person to help in any type of emergency?  My multi-faceted husband is an asset to me in many ways!

We've already been out on our daily drive in Marloth Park and saw very few animals.  After all, its the weekend and there are many cars and tourists in the park, causing the wildlife to stay well hidden. We did encounter a few giraffes, kudus, impalas and ostriches. We saw very little at the Crocodile River.
Elephant taking a big drink at Sunset Dam in Kruger National Park.
So far today, we've only seen one unknown female warthog, two hornbills and a variety of other birds.  This is highly unusual.  By Monday, we'll be excited to see them return, gracing our garden with lively activity.

Tonight, back to Jabula Lodge and Restaurant for another surely fun evening with Rita and Gerhard with great food, wine and lively banter with Dawn, Leon, Lyn, and other guests.

May your day and evening be filled with lively banter and good food!

Photo from one year ago today, November 10, 2017:
Tom's photo from the veranda in Costa Rica of this Flame-colored Tanager.  For more photos, please click here.

Our social life continues...A friendly visitor in the restaurant...Nature can be both heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time...

Tom at sunset as we dined with Rita and Gerhard at Ngwenya on buffet night.  Rita took this great photo so indicative of the peaceful and views from this excellent location.
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
Rita and I were captivated by a visitor who entered the restaurant, a friendly little dung beetle.  We both held him and felt the ticklish feel of his spiny legs moving rapidly in our hands.
Last night, Rita and Gerhard picked us up at 1630 hrs (4:30 pm) for sundowners on the veranda at Ngwenya overlooking the Crocodile River to be followed by the buffet dinner inside the restaurant after darkness fell.
We've so enjoyed spending time with new friends Rita and Gerhard who came to Marloth Park after reading our posts years ago.  Through our site, they found the holiday home they've rented and also found Louise to help them get situated.  They'll be here in Marloth until February.  Hopefully, we'll be here as well for more fun times together.
We have a lot in common with this lovely couple and the conversation flowed with ease, animation, and enthusiasm.  They, too, have traveled all over the world and have great stories to tell.  Our mutual love of nature and wildlife precipitates an endless flow of interesting conversation.

From quite a distance Tom spotted this elephant with an obvious problem with his left tusk.
This Sunday friends Kathy and Don return to Marloth Park and more social activities will ensue over these next few weeks.  Next Saturday is our Thanksgiving dinner celebration here at the orange house.

It was apparent this elephant's left tusk has been damaged affecting the muscles, ligaments, and tendons that hold it in place.  We hoped he wasn't in pain.
Today, I'm working on making the equivalent of canned pumpkin using lumpy frozen pumpkin.  I've processed the first two bags and I think it's going to work well. 

Another view of the elephant with a damaged tusk.
As soon as I upload today's post, I'll prepare the homemade pumpkin pie spices using multiple spices.  There's certainly no prepared pumpkin pie spice to be found anywhere in South Africa or even on the continent.  It's a USA thing used for a specific USA holiday.  

From there, I'll make the from-scratch pie crust, a favorite recipe from Martha Stewart, the best pie crust in the land.  If you'd like the recipe, please click here.  It's a little time consuming but worth the extra effort.  

A black-winged stilt we spotted at Sunset Dam in Kruger.
For the first time in seven years, I purchased a bag of white flour and another bag of sugar.  I won't be even tasting the pie so Tom will be on his own to determine if this pie will be worthy of making in number for our guests arriving for dinner on the 17th.

Tonight, Tom will dine on marinated pork chops on the braai while I have salmon steaks, along with roasted vegetables, mashed cauliflower, and salad.  And then, for dessert (a rare treat in this household) Tom will have a piece of the pumpkin pie.  He doesn't care for Cool Whip (which isn't available here) or whipped cream atop his pie.  Plain and simple, that's how my guy likes it.

A crocodile made an appearance to check out his surroundings and possible food sources.
Back to last night, after our fine buffet dinner, a "visitor" walked into the main door of the restaurant, my favorite "bug" of all time, the fascinating dung beetle.  

He didn't have his ball of dung with him or had yet to prepare it but as summer approaches, we'll surely find plenty of these interesting creatures with their ball of dung in tow.  More on that later when we see one with his perfectly shaped ball and perhaps a wife running atop it as he pushes it along with his bag legs.

While I was indoors preparing dinner, Tom called me to hurry and come outside.  He'd taken these photos of Wounded with an oxpecker "working on" the severe injury near his left eye.
Rita and I held him in our hands.  I was so excited I could hardly hold the camera straight to take a decent photo.  That happens to me sometimes...my enthusiasm supersedes my ability to hold the camera steady.  

As I always say, I'm not a professional photographer.  I'm an enthusiastic photographer which sometimes results in my emotions getting in the way of the perfect shot.
Here again, is another example of the symbiosis between certain animals.  The oxpecker eats the maggots and decaying debris from his injury while he cooperates with the intrusion.
Also, included today are several photos took of our new friend and now frequent visitor "Wounded" who showed up about a week ago and now visits every day.  His obvious facial injury is heartbreaking but he wastes no time eating plenty of pellets and vegetables.

Wounded is very shy around other warthogs so we imagine he may have been wounded by another warthog in a fight for dominance or food.  We make a point of fussing over him whenever he arrives, hoping in time his injury will heal.  It's too soon to tell if he was blinded in his eye from the injury.

Nature can be both heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time.
What astounded us about yesterday's visit by Wounded was when he walked into the garden he had an oxpecker, as shown in the photos, working on "cleaning out his wound."  

The oxpecker may or may not be helpful when they may become too aggressive in clearing an injury from maggots or other insects, only making matters worse.  We can only hope Wounded starts to heal at some point soon. Such a grievous injury can result in a long and painful death.

Three giraffes stopping for a drink in the river.
Today is a warm sunny day, not too cool, not too hot.  Its comparable to what one may experience on a tropical island.  But, the bush is no tropical island.  And life happens for these creatures as shown in the above photo of an elephant with an injured tusk.  There's nothing we can do but let nature take its course.

So for today, we'll let nature take it's course as we're delighting in a number of visitors stopping by on this perfect day.  The pellets and veg are plentiful as is our enthusiasm in sharing it all.

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, November 9, 2017:
A fiery-billed acara in Costa Rica says, "I've got mine!"  For more photos, please click here.