Another birthday celebration...This time at the bar entitled, "What the Hell"...Finally, rental car issue resolved...

 
Painting on the wall outside a sushi restaurant in Palermo, Buenos Aires, Argentina on this date in 2017. For more photos, please click here.
Seniors seem to prefer going out during the day as opposed to at night in the dark. I suppose we are no exception. With crazy drivers on the roads at night many who may have been drinking, daytime visibility is definitely a benefit. That's not to say daytime drivers are competent or sober.

This fact is especially relevant as we approach New Year's Eve. It's for this very reason we were prompted to spend New Year's Eve at the party here at the resort, rather than venture out to any other locations.

Over the years, our interest in New Year's Eve has diminished considerably, but when the opportunity to attend the party came up a few nights ago at a great price we negotiated for two tickets, it was hard to turn it down. See yesterday's post for details.

Yesterday, we brought the egg dish and blueberry muffins to Colleen and Gene's home for brunch. Afterward, we watched the disappointing Minnesota Vikings Game, returning to our house around 3:30 pm with little to do but relax and unwind.

We should have started to tackle prospects for future bookings but once we returned Tom was determined to watch football for the rest of the day and evening.

I busied myself with a variety of tasks including making a light dinner at 6:30 pm. This morning prior to beginning the post, my time has been spent online checking credit card balances for the first-of-the-month payments. 

Since we're leaving at 1:30 pm to pick up Colleen and Gena (it's her birthday today) to head to "What the Hell Bar and Grill" to celebrate her birthday, we have little time to get wrapped up in any research for future travels.

This morning, Tom received an email from rentalcars.com, a site we've used since the onset of our travels, and will continue to use for the best pricing on cars worldwide. They finally were crediting us for the issue we ran into when we arrived in Las Vegas on November 28, 2019.

When we approached the rental desk at the Alamo at the airport, we were informed we couldn't receive the car we'd rented online due to some technical error between them and rentalcars.com.

However, Alamo booked another car for us at an even better price, which we accepted. But, the issue remained to apply for a credit for the car we didn't get and Alamo stated we'd have to do so through rentalcars.com.

Receiving the credit turned into a convoluted mess of endless email messages, and instructions to apply for the credit online (which didn't work) with a high degree of frustration on our end. We didn't give up. We kept pressing.

Finally today, they wrote to us stating the credit will be processed and appear on our credit card within 10 business days. Plus, they offered us a complimentary three-day rental next time we use the service by using a code they included in the message. 

We'll keep checking the credit card for the credit and definitely use the code next time we rent a car which should be once we arrive in London in May, after the cruise from Mumbai in April.

Now that we have all of the annoying issues resolved hanging over our heads, we can freely move forward in our planning for the future.

Have a fabulous day!

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Photo from one year ago today, December 30, 2018:
Puff adders are commonly seen in Marloth Park. This photo was taken while we were at snake school in March.  Click here for the link when the photo was taken. Click here for the post one year ago.

Social nirvana into the New Year...

We often encountered beautiful flowers when we walked the neighborhood in Pacific Harbor, Fiji on this date in 2015.
We knew that staying in Apache Junction would provide us with an opportunity to not only to spend enjoyable times with Tom's sisters and spouses, but also with other resort residents we'd meet along the way.

Yesterday afternoon at 3:00 pm was no exception. When Colleen and Mary were invited to an afternoon "happy hour" of course, they ensured we were included as well.
When we arrived at Sue and Ed's lovely park home, we were heartily welcomed. The group of eight of us engaged in lively conversation. As the afternoon wore on, word got out and four others showed up, all of whom we'd met at other parties over the past three weeks.

The 12 of us were a lively group and there was no shortage of chatter in the room. How they managed to squeeze enough chairs into the room to accommodate everyone baffled me. I guess groups this size must be a common occurrence with all the socializing.

When we'd brought up New Year's Eve to Tom's sibling none sounded enthused to going out to celebrate. Tom also hesitated to plan anything and yet, I'd have loved to go out to celebrate, especially if we could do so nearby.

There's a New Year's Eve party planned at the resort, but we'd heard the tickets were sold out. Ironically, last night a couple, Sue and Mike mentioned they were trying to sell their two tickets to the New Year's Eve party for which they paid $64. They preferred to attend another party at a nearby resort.

The husband, Mike, was open for negotiations on the price of the tickets. He agreed to $50 for the pair. I offered $40. After all, the party occurs in only two days. He agreed to $45. I stuck to my guns at $40 and eventually, he agreed, knowing it would be unlikely he could sell them at this late a date.

Hostess Sue (lots of Sue's here) suggested we sit with them and hang out with them at the party. We may know a few others in attendance, but this plan was most preferred.

This morning I baked blueberry muffins and just took a huge egg, sausage, mushroom and onion bake out of the oven to bring to Colleen and Gene's home for brunch for the six of us. We'll be watching the Minnesota Vikings game from Tom's laptop on their big-screen TV using our HDMI cord.

Tomorrow, we'll all celebrate Colleen's birthday at the local bar and the next night we'll attend the New Year's Eve party. It's quite fun being here. We're enjoying every moment.

Have a fantastic day, dear readers! Go Vikings!
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Photo from one year ago today, December 29, 2018:
Tom took this photo of two hadeda birds on the roof of a neighboring property.  Click here to hear the sounds they make, which resulted in their name.  They are known as the loudest birds in South Africa. For more photos, please click here.

Researching the future...We're behind schedule...


Taking this photo without zoom on this date in 2013 gives a perspective of the small size of this island, somehow appealing to her for its varied vegetation. For more photos from that date, please click here.
Since we arrived in the US on November 8th, we've been preoccupied with visiting family and planning for our upcoming two months in India. At this point, we've yet to begin booking where we'll stay after our 29-night cruise from Mumbai to London which ends on May 2, 2020.

It may seem to be a long time away, but in our world, four or five months fly by in a flash, especially when we are having a great time. As much as we'd like to postpone the time it takes to conduct an in-depth search, the time has come for us to get to work.

The hardest part of booking the six months we have to fill between the end of the cruise until the next cruise in November is where exactly would we'd like to travel.

With the Schengen visa requirement that we can only stay in Europe for 90 days out of 180 days it makes sense for us to spend more time in the UK that doesn't fall into the Schengen requirements. 

Undoubtedly, it makes sense to stay in Scotland (a part of the UK) for a period of time, which neither of us has visited so far. There appears to be a number of available options for the summer months. But, undoubtedly, we'd better get something booked soon.

It's still hanging up in the air concerning our return to South Africa at the end of the November cruise. But one thing we have decided is we won't stay in South Africa over the holidays due to increased seasonal rental costs and excessive power outages, especially when there are so many people in Marloth Park. They are experiencing such issues now as we've seen mentioned many times on Facebook.

Instead, we're contemplating getting off the ship a few days prior to the end of the cruise when the ship docks in a port of call in Luderitz or Walvis Bay, Namibia and stay there for a few months while awaiting the end of the holiday season in South Africa. This makes a lot of sense to us.

After the upcoming first of January, we'll be contacting an immigration attorney in South Africa to assist us in getting the waiver we applied for which has yet to be approved.  

It's been almost eight months since we applied and yet have no response. Without the waiver, we won't be able to return to South Africa until May 2024. That's too far out for any planning at this point.

This morning we visited Mary and Eugene and Colleen and Gene (Margie returned to Minnesota for a few weeks to attend her granddaughter's wedding on New Year's Eve). No one seems interested in doing anything out and about on New Year's Eve, but there are a few activities transpiring in the next few days.

Tomorrow, before noon we'll get together for the Minnesota Vikings Game at Colleen and Gene's home where we'll hook up Tom's laptop via the HDMI cord to their large TV. I am making an egg, mushroom, onions and sausage casserole to bring for brunch.

On Monday, its Colleen's birthday and the six of us will go out for happy hour and a bite to eat at a local pub, "What's the Hell." It will be fun to celebrate with her as we did over Tom's birthday on Monday.

Now, I'm off to the market once more for a few items. We'll spend a quiet day and evening at our place, having dinner and perhaps watching a movie in the evening. We've already completed our walk now that the rain stopped.

Happy day!
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Photo from one year ago today, December 28, 2018:
It's easier for male kudus to eat this way as opposed to bending down with those giant horns.  Wildebeest Willie waits in the background for his turn. For more details, please click here.

A perspective from the inside...Aging gracefully...


This photo was posted on this date in 2014 when our family visited Mount Kilauea on the Big Island of Hawaii. This was my favorite shot of the evening with the backdrop of the glow of the lava.
After a great night's sleep last night, both of us are really feeling well. At this point, with the recent virus gone and my ongoing recovery from last February's dreadful experience, I am feeling better than I have in over 10 months. What a relief!

I prefer not to be overly optimistic, and proceed with caution realizing that some days may not be as good as others. Then again, most of us have good and bad days as to how we feel, especially as we age.
Living in this senior community for 18 nights thus far with a total of 51 nights for the duration has given us an opportunity to see how other seniors live; their health concerns; their worries; their relationship issues; and the affordability (or not) of living in this pleasant, modern RV park.

Surprisingly, most people we've met have been very candid about their personal lives. Many have discussed their memory issues and health challenges in some detail. 

However, there is a substantial number of residents, from what we can ascertain, that is healthy, active and full of vitality. In either case, no one we've met to date appears to judge those with health or emotional issues. 

Overall, the residents appear happy to be here, many of whom have lived here for as many as 20 years. Sure, some express concerns over the Park's management, but this is to be expected. 

It's easy to get caught in the loop of observing management's handling of the facility and subsequently making comments or observations of how a variety of situations could improve. However, few seem to express these concerns to the corporate office.

The park appears to be well run. It's clean, well maintained and has a robust variety of services and activities in which residents may participate or not. Most events result in an easy social experience suitable for singles and married couples. 

There are some individuals who've lost their spouses and yet remain in the park during the winter months or throughout the year. Tom's sister, Margie lived here during the winter months with her husband Charlie, who sadly passed away in 2008 and yet she still spends her winters here to avoid the cold weather in Minnesota.

For her, the benefit of having two of her sisters living here is a big draw as well. Most residents, make an effort to make friends in the park with whom they develop close relationships. Fortunately, we've had an opportunity to meet many of Tom's sister's friends, all of whom are lovely people.

Many residents have homes they return to in the spring, not returning until October, November or later and leaving as soon as the weather warms in their home states.

The Arizona summer weather can be daunting, for example:
"In Phoenix and the surrounding suburbs, the summers are sweltering and dry, the winters are cool, and it is mostly clear year-round. Over the course of the year, the temperature typically varies from 44°F (6.7C) to 106°F (41C) and is rarely below 36°F (2.2C) or above 111°F (44C). The record high-temperature is 122°F (50C)."

It's not surprising that few seniors prefer to stay here in the summer months but many no longer have second homes out of state and due to affordability and convenience will stay through the hot summer months.

No doubt, we're enjoying our time here meeting new people and spending quality time with Tom's three sisters and two brothers-in-law. During our quiet time, we busy ourselves with household tasks, research for future travels and of course, preparing each day's post.

In only four days, the New Year will be upon us. May you enjoy the planning and preparations for what may be most suitable for you to ring in the New Year.
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Photo from one year ago today, December 27, 2018:
Elephants coming down the hill to the Crocodile River. It's hot and dry and water is sparse for them. For more photos, please click here.

A lovely Christmas day had by all...

Me, Tom and Kathy during the cocktail hour before dinner on Christmas Day last year.
At last night's Christmas dinner at Mary and Eugene's home, again, we didn't take photos to respect the wishes of the attendees. Not everyone feels comfortable having their photos taken and published online.

With 11 guests at the beautifully set table, the delicious foods were passed and enjoyed by all. However, I was only able to eat the ham and turkey, but I'd had a salad earlier in the day.

After dinner when the lemon meringue, pumpkin, and pecan pies were placed on the table with a large can of aerosol whipped cream, my mouth watered. In my old life, I would have eaten any one of them. But, I resisted after eating my plate of ham and turkey.

I always make an effort to avoid making a big deal of what I cannot eat, preferring to focus on what I can. Of course, others always comment on the lack of starches, grains, and sugar-laden items on my plate and I simply state I have an inflammatory condition (so true) that prevents me from partaking.

The menu consisted of most items included in a typical Thanksgiving dinner; roasted turkey with stuffing (plus lean ham in this case); mashed potatoes and gravy; sweet potato casserole; green bean casserole; white buns and pumpkin pie (plus other pies) for dessert. It has always been a favorite meal for most Americans. (I'd made the green beans and sweet potatoes earlier in the day).

During and after dinner, the conversation was rich and varied as we all easily connected with ease. Nine of the group were from Minnesota and, neighbors Jane and Len, are from Iowa. Eugene's sister and her husband were in attendance along with the widow of one of their brothers who'd passed away years ago.

During the day and evening, we had an opportunity to speak to four of our six grandchildren in Minnesota. Also, I spent time on the phone talking to both of my sisters, Julie in California and Susan in Nevada. Tom spent time on the phone with his eldest brother, Jerome. It was a good day.

Today will be low key. We have leftover green beans and sweet potatoes, which Tom will have with the marinated chicken breasts we'll make on the grill with additional sides of riced cauliflower and salad.

We just returned from a walk in the neighborhood. I must admit I haven't been doing as much walking as I should since my legs began to improve in October. After all, I was unable to walk far for over eight months due to the two surgeries on my legs and the crippling medications. 

I know I should have been walking each day since we arrived here two weeks ago, especially now that the awful coughing has ended. We've been here 2½ weeks and the time has come for me to commit to walking regularly.

My fitness device always reads at least 7000 steps a day, but I need to crank that up by walking with vigor on the street, not just going back and forth to Tom's sister's homes and moving about the house. 

I'm committed, as of today, instead of waiting to make New Year's resolutions which I've never been one to make. If I need to get something done, no need to wait for the New Year. 

That's it for today, folks. We hope each and every one of you who celebrate the holidays, had a lovely Christmas day as well.

We'll be back again soon!
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Photo from one year ago today, December 26, 2018:
Kathy and Don do a tremendous amount of hosting guests and always do so with aplomb and ease. For more photos, please click here.

Merry Christmas, everyone!...Christmas Eve festivities..."We'll figure it out"...



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

Although it never snowed anywhere we've traveled over the world the past seven years except while we were in Antarctica almost two years ago, somehow being in the US during Christmas feels a bit unfamiliar without snow.
Tom, another year older but still loads of fun!
Arizona, with its usually warm and mild winters, doesn't quite remind us of Christmastime even with the lights and decorations. Today, it's raining. Then again, during these past travel years, we haven't created the ambiance we so well remember of Christmases long ago. 

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

But, somehow the Christmas spirit fills our hearts and we think of our loved ones far away and may at times, miss the merriment we so embraced in our old lives.
Tom and brother-in-law Gene. Note Tom: always using his hands when he tells a story.
We didn't include photos of other family members when they prefer not to have their
photos published online. No problem.
We'd be foolhardy to say we don't miss certain aspects of our old lives. We do. It goes without saying, we'll always miss our family members and friends. At times, we even miss our old house, the lake, the wildlife, and our wonderful neighbors.

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

But soon, as we embark on yet another exotic and unusual journey, we find ourselves relieved of such idle meanderings as we imagine the future ahead of us and what treasures it has to bring.
Nothing like an adorable "wiener dog" to liven up the VFW's Christmas Eve festivities.
No, people don't understand the powerful hold that the wanderlust spirit has blissfully imposed upon us. We love this life. We're often asked, "How could you possibly leave everyone you love behind?"

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

When I was a child, my paternal grandmother, whom I dearly cherished lived all the way across the country. We only saw her once every five or six years and stayed in touch via handwritten letters and perhaps a once a year phone call. I never loved her any less that she chose to live far away. I loved her all the more.
Many brought "white elephant gifts" to swap amongst each other. It was fun to see some of the funny gifts, including a 10-year-old who ended up with an adult movie that his parents immediately grabbed from his hands.
We can only hope our fast-growing-up grandchildren and adult children feel the same, accepting and loving us just the same. With the availability of the internet, it has been much easier to stay in touch, see their faces, hear their voices, and share their lives.

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

Yet, somehow, we made it through. Did we learn something from this frightening experience? With both of us have had many challenges in our lives, as most people do, I can't say we learned a lot about ourselves we didn't already know.
The table was filled with white elephant gifts.
But, we did learn one thing often asked of us, "What will you do if something goes terribly wrong?" At the time of these types of queries, we'd look at one another and reply, "We'll figure it out."

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

Merry Christmas to each and every one of our family members, readers/friends and all the people we've met along the way. We truly feel blessed in more than one way...
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Photo from one year ago today, December 25, 2018:
Little doesn't disappoint.  He stopped by Christmas Eve morning and began walking up the steps to the house. I found him on step #3 and encouraged him to eat outside. He complied.  I tendered pellets, apples, and carrots.  He ate the produce and left the pellets thinking about the human leftovers he would be getting elsewhere at a holidaymaker's houses, maybe chips, Christmas cookies and marshmallows (none of which are good for him).  But, after all, he is a pig and he likes junk food, too. Merry Christmas. For more, please click here.

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for sharing this time, all times in the past and times upcoming in the future. All of you are instrumental in the joy we feel as we continue on this journey...36 days and counting...
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Photo from one year ago today, December 24, 2018:
OThe bright light behind us wasn't the best vantage point in taking this photo. From left to right: Don, Kathy, me, Tom, Danie, Gerhard with Louise and Rita in front. For more photos from his party one year ago, please click here.

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


Jandre, Danie, Kathy, Tom, me, Rita, Louise and Gerhard on the veranda overlooking the Crocodile River at Tom's birthday party last year. (Photo is from the following day's post on December 24th. Don, Kathy's husband took the photo).
It's a delightfully busy morning as I continue to prep today's dishes for Tom's birthday dinner party starting at 4:00 pm today. Yesterday, we posted the menu. If you missed it, please click here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May you have a fantastic day as the Christmas festivities continue...
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Photo from one year ago today, December 23, 2018:
December 23, 2017:  Happy 65th birthday to my darling husband, lover,  travel companion and forever friend who has made this special and unique life of world travel possible.  Click here for details. For the post from one year ago today, please click here.

Prepping for Tom's birthday dinner...Here's the menu...

Photo of the beautiful Crocodile River taken from Marloth Park on this date in 2013. For more, please click here.
Tomorrow's birthday dinner for Tom is the first big meal I've made for guests in over 10 months. When deciding on the menu for his birthday dinner tomorrow, I found it necessary to consider several factors: one, the limited space in the kitchen; two, that the various dishes are easy to prepare; Tom's taste preferences (along with our guests); and limited space for serving a variety of side dishes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pre-holiday weekend has begun...Two days until Tom's birthday celebration!...

On the way to Nelspruit with our driver Okee Dokee, she stopped to buy lychee nuts from this adorable girl, who was selling them on the side of the road with her mom. For more photos from this date in 2013, please click here.
It's disappointing not being able to buy Tom a gift for his upcoming birthday. In our old lives, we always had gifts for one another for birthdays, Christmas, Valentine's Day, anniversaries and other special days throughout the year.

Our lifestyle prohibits buying anything that goes into our single piece of luggage. His bag is packed to the brim with recent purchases I made for him while in Minnesota. He has everything he needs and wants. 

After Christmas, he'll need to purchase a leather belt which he wears daily to hold up his pants. I guess that's kind of an "old man" thing. (He won't mind my saying this). 

Also, we'll need to buy some of those short white socks that most people wear these days as opposed to the older-style socks that come part-way up one's calf.
We both prefer the longer socks but we've adapted to the more "fashionable" style.

We prefer not to stand out as seniors who don't have a clue as to what is in style and what is not. Also, by "going with the flow" we stand out less as typical senior tourists as we travel the world.

This morning I headed back to the Safeway Market for a few more of their spectacular deals such as roasted chickens at $5.95 each and bacon at $.99 for a 12-ounce pack. 

We've begun thinking about the tasks we must tackle before we leave the US in 39 days. Gosh, the time is coming up quickly. After the holidays' end, I'll start trimming down the contents in my clothing suitcase and the "supplies" suitcase. Tom will do the same in his clothing suitcase.

Also, I am making a list of toiletries and other items to add to the "supplies" suitcase. I doubt we'll be able to replace many items we frequently use while in India, some of which we may find in other countries. 

Constantly making lists is a relevant aspect of our world travels. I use a few apps on my phone which include "Bring" a grocery and shopping app I've been using for years and "Google Keep" where I can make lists for absolutely anything. 

These two apps help us stay organized, especially when we know we may not have access to shopping. We'll be eating out all meals while in India but will forego bringing any food items with us.

Tom's a little concerned about the spices in Indian food and I'm concerned that I won't be able to get appropriate low carb meals for my way of eating when so many foods are starchy. However, after doing some research it appears most hotels have eggs, chicken, fish, and vegetables for me and chicken and rice for Tom. 

Today, Tom is watching football all day while I continue to work on financial matters. In this small space, there isn't much I can do to stay occupied but somehow I manage to entertain myself.

Have a great start to the holidays this weekend!
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Photo from one year ago today, December 21, 2018:
Last year on this date, I made Rice Crispy bars for Tom's birthday. The humidity in Marloth Park made it difficult to harden so I trimmed the edges, placing them in the red bowl as shown.  Tom snacked on the edges after they firmed up in the refrigerator. For more details, please click here.

And the beat goes on...Human error..

 
Yesterday morning, we spotted this white mass in a tree hanging over the pool, only 15 feet, 4.5 meters from where we sit each day, waiting for visitors. It turned out to be a tree frog's nest which magically appeared overnight. For more photos, please click here.
We can't ever entirely relax. There always something we must attend to often centering around handling errors we discover along the way, often made by companies and their staff.

Sure, from time to time, we make errors and when doing so most often, it costs us money. Whether our errors incur costs to us or others, we immediately get to work to resolve it. It falls in line with our philosophies and integrity in doing so.

But, when others make errors causing us to lose money or time, we won't sit idly back and let the loss be absorbed into our lifestyle or financial scenario. We've chosen to stay on top of these errors as quickly as they are discovered.

On Monday, when we met Vicki and Jerry for lunch when Tom and Jerry went to pay, they discovered the restaurant's credit card processing was down after they'd taken both of credit cards to determine the transaction wouldn't go through in either case.

Instead, both Tom and Jerry paid cash. Shortly after we left, I received a message that a transaction for $30.30 was processed on our card. Jerry discovered the same. 

The next day, I checked online and saw the charge was in a pending status. I called the restaurant at the golf club only to be told the charge wouldn't actually show up as paid and would be gone from a "pending status" in a few days.

I carefully watched the account and found that yesterday, it become an actual charge when it left the "pending status." I called the golf course again, only to be left on hold for 20 minutes. Jerry experienced the same.

Finally, I got a live answer and asked for the name and number of the club manager. I called him directly. He profusely apologized and said it would be resolved immediately. This morning I checked to find a credit on our card for the $30.30. Jerry experienced the same.

Overall, I spent no less than an hour dealing with this. How ridiculous! Also, recently we were overcharged for a rental car. We've spent no less than two hours attempting to resolve this issue and now must wait another 10 days until its handled. Ridiculous!

I marked my calendar to follow up in 10 days. Why is it necessary to continue to be required to spend our time resolving issues generated by others? I bet many of you can relate to this.

We carefully watch every transaction for fear that something will be incorrect. One can't ever be too careful, especially when we often find errors that those less diligent may have easily missed. 

This isn't exclusive to the US. We've found such issues all over the world. Ironically, since we've been in the US, it appears there have been more than usual. Is it that we've had a little more time to be diligent or...the "nature of the beast?" Lots of transactions...lots of errors.

Believe me, we don't like to focus on the negative nor do we like writing about it here. But, for those who travel, frequently making credit card purchases, it's imperative to be diligent and suspiciously search for errors.

As I always remind Tom...get a receipt, regardless of whether its a cash or credit card transaction. How often one can later go over a cash receipt and find we were charged for an item we never ordered. An easier step is to carefully review the receipt before ever leaving the premises.

We're attempting to get all of these types of situations behind us in the next 40 days before we leave for India. It's a lot easier handling issues while here than it will be with sketchy WiFi and long-distance calling.

This morning, I finished grocery shopping for Tom's birthday dinner and also for the side dishes we're bringing to Mary and Eugene's for Christmas Day dinner. It's a good thing I shopped today when the market wasn't overly busy yet. Most likely, it would have been crowded by tomorrow.

Have a fantastic Friday evening!
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Photo from one year ago today, December 20, 2018:
Yesterday, it was horribly hot at 42C, 108F and "Little" needed to cool off.  The water in the cement pond was most likely hot as well but cooler than the air temperature.  It was only after it had cooled down that he lumbered out of the pool and then, only then, was he looking for a good meal.  We complied with pellets, ice-cold diced carrots, and diced apples.  He took one last dunk before he left for the evening. For more photos, please click here.