Fabulous goodbye-for-awhile birthday party in the bush...An appreciated addition to the veranda...


This space heater will keep up warm as we spend each night outdoors during the cool winter nights.  See the details in the story. 
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
A hornbill sitting in the top section of the bird feeder. From this site: "Most are arboreal birds, but the large ground hornbills (Bucorvus), as their name implies, are terrestrial birds of open savanna. Of the 24 species found in Africa, 13 are birds of the more open woodlands and savanna, and some occur even in highly arid environments; the remaining species are found in dense forests."
I had promised food photos from last night but I'm failing to live up to my promise.  We just had too much fun and, other then the few we've included here today, I was just too busy and engaged in the festivities to think about taking many photos.  Sorry about that!
Aloe Vera is known to be one of the most healing plants on the planet.  They grow wild here in the bush.  We took this photo yesterday at the brick overlook in Marloth Park on the Crocodile River when we drove around the park looking for the lions.
None the less, here's the menu from the birthday dinner, overall, an all-American feast:
  • Cheese sticks
  • Moist less-fat biltong (amazing jerky found in South Africa)
  • Marinated grilled pork chops on the braai
  • Marinated grilled pork tenderloin on the braai
  • Roasted vegetables
  • Sweet corn cooked on the braai
  • Garlic mashed potatoes
  • "Par 30 Salad" (a recipe from our old lives given to me by a chef at a golf club)
  • Ciabatta garlic bread, dusted with Parmesan cheese and broiled to a light brown
  • Homemade gluten-free apple crisp served warm and topped with a dollop of vanilla ice cream
Our guests, Kathy and Don and Linda and Ken arrived with heavy coats, not knowing we had the heater.  It kept all of us comfortable all evening.
Actually, this was an easy dinner to make.  The only time-consuming items were peeling the apples for the apple crisp and then peeling the potatoes.  I hadn't made either of these items in seven years since I began my way of eating. 

Instead of birthday cake for Kathy's birthday, I made gluten-free apple crisp, served warm and topped with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.  I didn't eat it due to the sugar content but everyone said it was delicious. 
My potato peeler that travels with us finally bit the dust and the one in the kitchen was equally dull.  Thus, I had to use a paring knife which was slow and cumbersome.  In my old life, I had an electric peeler that worked fabulously.  But, this isn't my old life and the trade-offs are worth it. 

This past week on the 4th of July was Ken's birthday, yesterday was Kathy's and on the 16th is Linda's.  We celebrated all the birthdays with champagne, gifts, and merriment.
Last night, Ken walked out to the pond and took this photo of the noisy frog we've been hearing each night.  It's actually very small as shown while it's leaning on a leaf, next to a Helmeted Guinea Fowl feather.
It was a fantastic evening for all.  All the food came out as we'd hoped and the drinks flowed, starting with Pina Colada's, then to champagne (sparking brut) and then to each of our own preferred wine and cocktails.  I drank my usual low-alcohol red wine and Tom had his usual brandy and Sprite Zero.
Tom backing away from the band of mongoose after he sets down the bowl of eggs.
In Marloth Park, it's a tradition that dinner guests bring their own preferred beverages such as wine, beer or liquor.  It's a great tradition since it keeps the cost and convenience of entertaining within reach for everyone.  In some cases, hosts will start the evening with a special celebratory beverage such as the Long Island Ice Teas, at Kathy and Don's home on the 4th of July.
At times, we have dozens in the yard.  Yesterday, there were only about 25 mongooses clamoring around the bowl of raw eggs.
I don't consume any mixed beverages of any type (due to sugar) nor was I able to eat anything on the above menu except for the pork and roasted vegetables.  The remainder had too many carbs or included dairy, not befitting my diet.  I didn't mind a bit.  As the proverbial hostess, I always love seeing our guests enjoy our offerings.

Let's backtrack a bit.  Earlier in the day while on our daily drive in search of the lions currently in the park, I had an idea about the cold nights we've been experiencing on the veranda.  There's no way we want to have to be indoors in the evenings.  What if we could find some type of space heater or outdoor heater?  After all, winter has only just begun and it's very cool at night.
Even after the bowl is empty they continue to lick the bowl trying to get the very last drop of the eggs.
We stopped at a few places while we were out yesterday but couldn't find a thing that would work for us last night and going forward, certainly not in Marloth Park shops.  With the busy day, there wasn't enough time to drive to Komatipoort or Malelane to see what we could find.

We resigned ourselves that our dinner party would require warm jackets once the sun was set around 17:30 (5:30 pm).  As we often do when we have questions I sent Louise a message asking where she'd recommend we go on Monday to purchase some type of outdoor heater.
We were busy inside the house preparing for last night's dinner party.  But, we knew the mongooses had arrived by the high pitched cackling and squeals.  Tom always drops a few un-cracked raw eggs on the ground to keep them around while we make up the bowl of six to eight eggs (depending on the size of the "band").
Within seconds, she replied, "Hahaha, I've got one for you.  Just wait and see."
"What???" I asked in a state of total shock.

Within ten minutes, Zef and Vusi showed up in the "buckie" (truck) with one of those fabulous gas heaters seen in some outdoor restaurants on a chilly night as shown in today's main photo.  We had a bottle of gas on hand and in a manner of minutes, it was all set up and ready to use. 

How did we get so lucky to have Louise and Danie as our friends and our "landlords?"  Their kindness, attention-to-detail, and generosity are like none we've seen anywhere in the world. 

Oh, don't get me wrong, we've had nothing but wonderful landlords over these past years of world travel, many of whom we still stay in touch.  But, these two?  Over-the-top, all the way around.  If you're looking for a property to rent or build in Marloth Park, these are the people to see.  The friendship and socializing with them is such a bonus, we'll always treasure.

The heater kept us all warm and comfortable and tonight while we dine on leftovers, we'll be right here on the veranda as we are now, lapping up every moment of life in the bush.

Have a spectacular weekend wherever you may be!
_____________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, July 7, 2017:
There was no post on July 7th, the date we flew from Minnesota to Nevada where we spent three weeks with son Richard at his home in Henderson.  More will follow.

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